Thursday, 15 March 2012

My Mom's Clam Chowder and Gluten free Clam Chowder

Here are two versions of this traditional Nova Scotia soup. The regular one I learned from my Mom, and the gluten free version I created last year. I once told a friend that baking is science - because you have to balance the acids and bases correctly for your baking to turn out - but that cooking is art. There are many ways to make any recipe your own, by changing one or two things. Experiment and find what you like best.

My Mom's

What you need: 
1 package of bacon - thick cut is best - chopped into pieces about 1 inch long; 4 large potatoes; 1 large onion; 2 Tbs flour ( Robin Hood has an easy blending one which is finer than regular all purpose flour); 4 cans of clams with the juice - or 3 packages of frozen clams and 2 (7oz) bottles of pure clam juice; 1 Tbs dried parsley flakes, or 3 Tbs snipped fresh parsley; 2 cups of milk or light cream; salt and pepper to taste.

In a large soup pot, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy. Meanwhile peel and cut potatoes into bite sized cubes. Peel and chop onion. Drain most of the grease out. Add onion to pot, and allow to cook until just softened, but not browned. Stir in flour to make a roux.  Add potatoes to soup pot with all the clam juices. Add salt and pepper. Bring up to a boil, then add clams, parsley and reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are just cooked. Add milk or cream. Heat to serving temperature and serve. DO NOT BOIL. Cream or milk will curdle if boiled.

If you prefer to use a slow cooker, cook the bacon in a skillet then transfer to your slow cooker, and add onion to the skillet and cook as above. Stir flour into onion, then transfer to slow cooker and add  everything except milk or cream.  Allow to cook 4-5 hours on high, or 8 hours on low. Half an hour before serving time, add milk or cream to slow cooker, and heat on high power for about twenty minutes.

Goes great with homemade biscuits, and salad.

Gluten free version

What you need: above ingredients except - 1/4 cup gluten free potato flakes or 4 Tbs potato flour;  in place of the wheat flour.

Make as directed except for adding flour. Use potato flakes or potato flour to thicken soup as desired just before adding milk or cream. If using slow cooker, add with clams.

Options - change this to a seafood chowder by reducing clams by half, and adding 2 packages of frozen small shrimp, and 1 package of frozen scallops, as well as 5-6 ounces of crab or lobster if you want really decadent soup.
Some people add 1/2 cup finely chopped celery to the onion, but I like it with only onion and potatoes.

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