Food is an essential part of any culture; you can learn so much about a place by learning about its food culture. For example, in collectivist cultures that are based more on groups than individuals, meals are served communally and people share all the dishes, not even using an individual plate. There are also classic dishes for each region or country, often based on the crops that grow there or the ingredients available. In the South, you can find shrimp n grits and fried chicken, while some Midwest specialties are casseroles and puppy chow. As for the East coast, Boston clam chowder is the way to go.
Boston Clam Chowder
No trip to the east coast is complete without a creamy bowl of Boston clam chowder, also known as New England clam chowder. First introduced by French or Nova Scotian settlers, clam chowder is popular across the East coast, and each region has its own variation. Boston is also known for its delicious lobster roll, but nothing beats the warm deliciousness of a steaming bowl of Boston Clam Chowder.
Rhode Island clam chowder and Manhattan clam chowder, otherwise known as "chowdah," are made with a tomato-based broth. In Maine and New England, clam chowder has a decadently creamy base and is filled with potatoes, clam broth and clams. The best clam chowder is made with soft-shell clams rather than quahogs, which are hard-shell clams. These are more tender, always a good thing when it comes to seafood. While fresh clams are delicious, it is often easier to buy canned clams, which often come already chopped. You can buy these at your local grocery store.
Bumble Bee Minced Clams
How to Make It
The first step in making Boston Clam Chowder is chopping all of your veggies and garlic. Then, after heating your oil in a pot, add your carrots and saute until they become slightly tender; then add the celery, leek, potatoes and garlic. Pour in your clam juice and diced clams, along with their liquid, and simmer on medium-high heat until the potatoes are soft enough to pick up with a fork.
While this simmers into the tasty beginnings of classic clam chowder, make a roux in a medium saucepan. Begin by melting a 1/2 cup of butter, and then add a 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour and whisk for a minute. Then, whisk in half and half until all ingredients are combined. It's important to stir constantly while making the roux, to ensure that it maintains a smooth, creamy texture.
Once your roux is ready and your potatoes are fork-tender, pour the roux into the soup, stir until fully mixed, and simmer for a few minutes. With a total time of 30 minutes, this is one of those recipes that seems way too good to be so quick and easy.
At this point, all you have left to add to your Boston clam chowder is your seasonings. While the classic recipe calls for salt, red pepper and black pepper, you can also use white pepper to add an extra bite. Clam chowder is best enjoyed with oyster crackers and a garnish of chives. If you really want to treat yourself, use a bread bowl, as nothing beats eating a creamy soup surrounded by warm bread for dipping.
Boston Clam Chowder
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 carrots
- 3 celery ribs
- 1 leek
- 4 potatoes
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 2 28 oz bottles bottled clam juice
- 2 6.5 oz cans chopped clams with juice
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 quart half-and-half
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- fresh cracked black pepper
- First, chop up all of your veggies and garlic. Heat your oil in pot, add your carrots, and saute until slightly tender. Then add in the celery, leek, potatoes and garlic. Pour in your clam juice and diced clams, along with their liquid, and simmer on medium-high heat until potatoes are fork-tender.
- While this simmers, make a roux in a medium saucepan. Start by melting a 1/2 cup of butter, then add a 1/2 cup flour and whisk for a minute. Then, whisk in half and half until all ingredients are combined, stirring constantly throughout the process.
- Once the roux is ready and potatoes are fork tender, pour the roux into the soup, stir until fully mixed, and simmer for a few minutes.
It's also delicious when eaten out of a bread bowl.