This is truly traditional New England fare; a tasty and comforting soup, especially in cold days.
Prepare the clams
- Scrub the clams. Set them in a large bowl with water and cornstarch to soak for 30 minutes. Rinse well after that.
- Take clam juice to the boil in a large pot and add clams, cover and reduce heat. Simmer until the clams open, about 5 minutes.
- Shuck the clams over the pot to catch all the juices, chop them and strain the clam broth, save both for later.
Parboil the potatoes
Pour water into a kettle, add salt and take it to the boil. Add the diced potatoes and cook for 3 minutes. Drain and set apart.
Prepare the chowder
- In a large saucepan, sauté bacon or salt pork until brown. Remove excess fat leaving just 2 Tbs. Add the chopped onions and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add milk and stir scraping the bottom of the pan to detach all rests of bacon. Add now the blanched potatoes and the reserved clam broth. Take to the boil then lower heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
- In a small bowl, mix butter and flour until smooth, whisk into the chowder and add the cream. Again, take to the boil, reduce heat and simmer until it thickens, about 10 minutes.
- Add the clams and cook until thoroughly heated but do not boil. Season to your taste and serve.
You could substitute 2 cups canned, chopped clams instead of fresh ones and their liquid instead of clam juice.
Quahogs are fond along the USA Atlantic coast; if you don't have them, use your local clams instead of New England quahogs. Other possibilities to create your own New England style chowder are: cockles, oysters, mussels or scallops. You could use light fish stock instead of clam juice.