Every cook needs a classic New England chowder recipe in their arsenal. In a single creamy bowl you’ll find tender potatoes, bacon, and littleneck clams. Instead of seafood stock, the soup gets its rich flavor from dried shrimp. Find them in the international aisle of your supermarket, or any Asian grocer. Look for the brightest orange ones you can find; they’ll have the freshest flavor. In this recipe you take them straight from the package and boil them with milk and bay leaves to create a delectable salty broth. If you’d like to vary the recipe, try substituting shrimp for the clams.
5 cups whole milk
½ cup dried shrimp (about 3 oz.)
2 bay leaves
3 ounces bacon (about 4 slices), diced
2 cups thinly sliced leeks (about 3½ oz.)
½ cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons water
2 cups diced peeled russet potato (about 1 large potato)
1 cup diced celery (about 2 stalks)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
36 littleneck clams, scrubbed (about 2½ lb.)
2 tablespoons thinly sliced chives
How to Make It
Bring milk, shrimp, and bay leaves just to a boil in a saucepan over high. Remove from heat, and let stand 30 minutes. Pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl; discard shrimp and bay leaves.
Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels; reserve drippings in Dutch oven. Cook leeks in hot drippings, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Add wine, and bring to a boil. Boil until liquid is reduced to about 2 tablespoons, 3 to 4 minutes.
Whisk together flour and water, and stir into wine mixture in Dutch oven. Stir in milk-shrimp stock, diced potato, celery, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add clams; cover and simmer until clams open, 6 to 8 minutes. Discard any clams that do not open. Spoon into bowls, and top with cooked bacon and chives.
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