The first recipe that made me want to learn to cook was New England Clam Chowder from Domino magazine. Since I stopped eating dairy, and the idea of trying to make it from soy milk sounded really icky, I decided to try Manhattan Clam Chowder. I don't like tomato-based soups very much, and had never eaten it, but this recipe by Emeril on Food Network's website was so highly rated that I decided to give it a try. It was so good that I will definitely add this to my rotation of recipes. I'm listing the recipe below, even though it's freely available, because I halved it and noted the actual amount of everything to buy (I bought like five potatoes, and only needed two). I also replaced the bacon with olive oil and used dried parsley instead of fresh.
My husband cooked and chopped the clams, because I feel bad doing it.
But I love chopping everything else, it's so therapeutic...
Emeril's Manhattan Clam Chowder
(3 to 4 main course servings)
3 doz. littleneck clams
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 c. onion, finely chopped (~1/2 large white onion)
1/2 c. celery, finely chopped (~1 1/2 stalks)
1/4 c. bell pepper, chopped (~1/2 small green bell pepper)
1/2 c. carrot, diced (~1 large carrot)
3/4 Tbsp. garlic, minced
1 bay leaves
3/4 tsp. dried oregano leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 1/2 c. potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (~2 medium white potatoes)
1/2 c. vegetable stock
1 (15 oz.) can whole tomatoes, chopped and juices reserved
2 tsp. dried parsley leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
In a large stockpot bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
Add clams, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Uncover, quickly stir clams well with a wooden spoon, and recover.
Allow clams to cook 5 minutes longer, or until most of the clams are opened.
Transfer clams to a large bowl or baking dish and strain broth through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl. (Throw out any unopened clams!) You should have about 6 cups of clam broth. If not, add enough water to bring the volume up to 6 cups.
When clams are cool enough to handle, remove them from their shells and chop into 1/2-inch pieces. Set clams and broth aside.
In a large heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
Add onions, celery, bell pepper and carrots and cook for 10 minutes, until vegetables are softened. Do not allow to color.
Add garlic, bay leaves, oregano, thyme and crushed red pepper and cook an additional 2 minutes.
Increase heat to high and add potatoes, reserved clam broth, and vegetable stock and bring to a boil, covered.
Cook for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and the broth has thickened somewhat.
Add tomatoes and parsley continue to cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and add reserved clams and season with pepper and salt, if necessary.
Allow chowder to sit for up to 1 hour to allow flavors to meld, then reheat slowly over low fire if necessary. Do not allow to boil.