Mother Nature’s been frosty this winter, I wonder what’s set her off. And Punxsutawney Phil declared six more weeks of winter, so now is a good time to pull out the soup recipes. The recipes for delicious stick to your ribs soups. The soups that warm you from the inside out. And so many of them start with our favorite meat, the revered pork belly, aka Bacon.
Yeah, bacon, so delicious and versatile, really a hero of sorts. Bacon can make brussel sprouts, kale and asparagus palatable for even the most vegetable phobic diners. And it can be included in chocolate to make the sweet and savory flavor so many crave. You can “candy” it with just a few ingredients and make a version of Million Dollar Bacon.
But that’s for later, let’s turn our focus to soup, chowder to be precise. This is the first in a three-part series of soup recipes that start with bacon. We will post a different bacon-based soup recipe for the next few weeks and get you pretty close to Mother Nature’s frosty finish line.
- 6 or more clams, chopped fine (save liquid, about 1/2 cup), Or 6.5 oz canned minced clams (save 1/2 cup of the liquid)
- 1/4 pound* quality hickory smoked bacon , diced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 1/2 cups raw potatoes, diced
- 1/2 cup celery, diced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1 quart milk (4 cups)
- 2 Tbs butter
- 2 Tbs corn starch dissolved in 1/3 cup water
Bring 2 cups of water to boil then turn off heat and cover.
On medium heat cook bacon* until crisp being careful not to burn. Once cooked remove the diced bacon and set aside. Leave the bacon fat in the pan. Add chopped onion and saute for 5 minutes.
Reduce heat to low and add diced potatoes and celery, salt and white pepper and 1/2 of the cooked bacon. Saute on low for five minutes as you bring the water back to boil.
Add the boiling water, cover the pan, and simmer for ten minutes. Add chopped clams, reserved clam liquid, then finally the 4 cups of milk and 2 Tbs butter. Heat and thicken the soup to your taste with cornstarch dissolved in water, if desired. Stir the chowder frequently until creamy. Time to thicken will vary according to taste, approximately 20 - 30 minutes. Use the remaining bacon as garnish for the individual bowls of chowder.
A loaf of crusty french bread with a side salad and Soup’s On!
*Using slab bacon is ideal as it’s easy to dice and to maintain consistency in size so that the bacon cooks evenly. To ensure you have enough cooked diced bacon for garnish, increase the 1/4 pound to 1/3 pound. Always learn from experience, and having more chowder than diced bacon garnish was mine!
Go ahead, Mother Nature, be frosty.