I have this innate ability to make soup on warm days, rather than on the days I’m shivering in my apartment, too proud to turn on the heater. When I first moved to LA, I used to run the AC in the winter, because it was hot to a girl used to freezing temperatures. Now I’m wearing socks when it’s 60 degrees. SOCKS!! You can’t wear flip-flops with socks, people.
Everyone told me my blood would thin (I wish it was my waistline instead) and I would get cold. Well, it finally happened. This winter has been cold. Sure, there was a random cold day in previous years, but not a week or two or three.
To add to my confusion, we get brief respites of abnormally warm weather. I don’t like hot weather either. I’m like Goldilocks – I want it just right . For me, that’s low 70’s with a nice cool breeze on a bright sunny day. The good news is we should be heading into a long stretch of those kind of days. Woo-hoo!
Okay, I’ve ranted enough about cold weather (60 degrees really is cold – I swear it) so let’s get back to my soup. I never used to do a lot of meal planning, but for the past few weeks I’ve made a huge effort to plan out my meals and my shopping. It’s been going great. I’m wasting less food and spending less on groceries.
The only problem is when you have soup scheduled during a heat wave. And yes, 80 degrees is totally a heat wave. I’m probably going to end up with a migraine from the drastic temperature change. Did I ever mention that I was wimp? Makes you wonder how I survived sub-zero temps and blizzards in Minnesota.
The answer is I moved. To LA. Where I am SUPPOSED to be able to wear flip-flops year-round. And I did. Happily. Until I became a wimp. Again.
Right, right, I’m supposed to be talking about soup. Well, I chose this clam chowder for two reasons: I had a craving and it’s Lent. I’m not Catholic, so I can eat meat, but when I was in school, Lent meant fish stick Friday. I do not like frozen fish sticks. But I do like clam chowder, although I generally prefer it on cool days. 🙂
This soup comes together pretty quickly, so it’s a nice choice for a weeknight dinner whether it’s Lent or just a regular night. And it sure beats frozen fish sticks!
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New England Clam Chowder
Lightly adapted from Tracey”s Culinary Adventures
- 4 slices bacon, finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 8-oz bottles clam juice
- 2 cups water
- 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 20 saltines, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cans (6.5 oz) chopped clams, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the bacon and cook for 7-8 minutes, or until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
- Pour off bacon fat, leaving only 1 tablespoon in the pan. Add onion and cook until transparent, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds, then stir in clam juice, water, diced potatoes, saltines, thyme and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Stir occasionally.
- Transfer 1 cup of cooked potatoes to a bowl and mash until smooth. Stir mashed potatoes back into soup.
- Reduce the heat to low and add the clams, cooking for 3-5 minutes, or until they’re cooked through.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the heavy cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with crumbled bacon to top the clam chowder.