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Light(er) Clam Chowder

It’s soup season and one of my favorites is Clam Chowder.  There’s only one problem.  It’s not exactly diet friendly.  With as much as whole cube of butter and heavy cream or half and half, most clam chowder recipes are packed with fat and calories.

My version comes from a friend in Connecticut.  And while it isn’t totally devoid of fat and calories (it does have bacon and bacon drippings after all) it is significantly better than any other recipe I’ve ever seen.  The bacon and drippings are flavor, baby, flavor.  As Emeril says, “It’s a pork fat thing.”  This recipe is so good you won’t miss the butter and cream even for a minute.

Sue’s Clam Chowder

  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 2 Tablespoons reserved bacon drippings
  • 2 cups peeled and diced potatoes (may use red potatoes with the skin on)
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup onion
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon fresh thyme or ¼ teaspoon dried crushed thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 24 oz. minced clams (reserve liquid)
  • ½ cup flour
  • 6 cups milk (skim to 2%)

Cook bacon until crisp- chop into small pieces and set aside.  Reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings in a large stock pot.  Add onion, celery and season with 1 tsp. salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.  Saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add clam juice, potatoes, thyme and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until potatoes are soft.  In a bowl whisk together flour and about ½ cup milk until there are no lumps.

Add flour mixture and remaining milk, bacon, and clams and heat gently until thickened.  Do not boil.  Taste for seasoning and salt and pepper to taste.

Click on over to Tasty Kitchen for the printable recipe.

Start by sauteing the onions and celery in the bacon drippings.  Season with 1 tsp. of salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper.  One thing I want to say about soup recipes:  The measurements are just guidelines.  If you chop up an onion and there is 1 1/4 cups instead of the 1 cup required, I just throw the whole thing in.  If I really like potatoes, add a few more.  The measurement are just guidelines and not hard and fast rules like when baking.

Add the potatoes, thyme, bay leaf, and clam juice.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for 10 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

Whisk together 1/2 cup of milk with 1/2 cup of flour until smooth.

Chop up bacon.

Add milk, flour mixture, bacon and clams.  Heat gently until thickened.  Don’t let it come to a boil.  Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.  It really depends on how salty my bacon is.  A quick word about the milk.  The higher fat milks make for a thicker, creamier soup.  But if your watching what you eat, like me, the skim still tastes great.

And don’t forget some good bread.  Rye or pumpernickel breads are wonderful with clam chowder.  But I will take homemade wheat too.

It’s the perfect warm-you-up meal on a cold day.  Enjoy!

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3 Responses to “Light(er) Clam Chowder”

  • Hi Calli–I’m a new follower of Make It Do!

    Here’s why:

    1) I am a relatively new blogger
    2) by virtue of that I (naturally) discovered The Pioneer Woman 3) My lovely sister-in-law met Ree in Austin, TX recently for her new cookbook book signing and fabulously bought one for me for a Christmas present
    4) A lot of Ree’s dishes are cooked in Le Creuset
    5) I have managed my whole life so far (48 years) without Le Creuset (I’m not sure how)(apparently)
    6) I thought, by god, I’m going to buy myself a Le Creuset dutch oven!
    7) Hopped down to the kitchen store near where I work and (just about) dropped my teeth (well would have if they were false) over the cost of the coveted pan–I mean it’s a PAN!! (It was ON SALE for $270!!)
    8) Just now googled “Why is Le Creuset so expensive?” ….and guess who’s blog came up? (Remember your post last August?)
    9) It hadn’t occured to me that there might be Le Creuset OUTLETS …..so of course I clicked on the link you so handily provided ……and there is an outlet in Willimasburg, VA–one hour away–AND that is where my parent’s live (five minutes from the outlets) AND WE’RE GOING THERE FOR A FAMILY GATHERING THIS SATURDAY!!!!!!
    10) So I guess I’m also going to the LE Creuset outlet too!
    11) And I guess we’re going to have to wait for any meals cooked in Le Creuset from The Pioneer Woman’s cookbook until, well, Sunday at least :-)

    So that’s it Calli ……..I believe you have saved me at the very least $100!! Thank-you.

    In the meantime, I’ve been looking over your blog and I’m so very impressed. As I said, I am your newest follower ….

    Thanks again!

  • Oh yum! Now if I can just get the non fish eating, beach dwelling monkeys to eat it :) They are weirdos I know.

  • Joanna:

    I really love this recipe. I have tried this soup today and it tasted great:)
    Thanks again for the healthier Clam Chowder recipe!

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