Wow, did this come out well! In fact it is so good that our daughter ate it for breakfast this morning. Granted this is not exactly summer fare but it has been pleasant here for a few days so I thought I would make this on a cool day and then make vichyssoise for the hot days ahead. They share some of the same ingredients.
Although I do use 1/4 cup of cream in the soup, I think it would be almost as good with no cream at all. The pancetta gives it a nice undertone but next time I might just use olive oil and see how that works out. This is originally a Gabrielle Hamilton recipe but I have simplified it so much that it really bears little resemblance—for instance hers has real clams, guanciale, and 3 cups of heavy cream!
Marymom’s Light Clam Chowder
Makes 4 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 ounces finely chopped pancetta (Volpi makes a prechopped pack of two)
1/2 finely chopped onion
1 rib celery finely chopped
1 leek, white and light green parts only, cut into discs and washed well
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes cut into cubes
1 sprig tarragon
2 springs thyme
6 oz. white wine
2 cans chopped clams with liquid
2 bottles clam juice
3/4 cup milk (reg or 1% or 2%)
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper
toasted rustic bread
Heat the olive oil. Add pancetta. Saute until brown. Remove only pancetta and leave the pancetta fat in the pan. Add the onion, celery, leek, potato, tarragon, and thyme. Cook until the onion and leek are translucent. Add the white wine and let it steam off. Add only the juice from the canned clams and the bottled clam juice. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked. Add the cream and the milk keeping the mixture below a simmer. Add the clams and pancetta. Heat through on low. Check for seasoning and add salt if needed.
Ladle over a piece of rustic bread that has been toasted. Grind pepper as desired on top.