Usually when you think of New England clam chowder it is a creamy, thick broth with celery, clams, and potatoes. There is a lot of cream and butter in the recipe. Rhode Island clam chowder is a much lighter version, more like a seafood stew of clams and potatoes in a seafood rather than cream broth. My clam chowder is sort of between both extremes, the best of both worlds.
I am also going for ease of preparation here. I use jarred bottles of clam juice and canned chopped clams. The only sort of time consuming chore is cleaning and cutting up the leeks, everything else is pretty straight-forward.
CLAM CHOWDER WITH CROUTON. Serves 3-4
Adapted from a recipe by Gabrielle Hamilton
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
2 ribs of celery, minced
2 leeks, dark green parts removed, 1/4” half-rounds
10 ounces golden new potatoes, 1/2” dice
2 sprigs thyme, picked
2 sprigs tarragon
6 ounces dry white wine
2 bottles/16 ounces clam juice
Juice from 2 cans chopped clams (~8 oz.)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons heavy cream
12 ounces chopped clams (2 cans, reserved liquid, see above)
3-4 slices hearty bread, toasted
In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil, and add onion, celery, leeks, potatoes, tarragon, and thyme, stirring to coat. Season with salt, and cook over low heat until the vegetables have just started to soften, taking care not to brown, about 5 minutes. Deglaze with white wine and then add the clam juice and reserved clam liquid. Simmer until potatoes are al dente.
Stir in the cream, and simmer until vegetables are cooked through, taking care not to boil. Add the chopped clams, and season to taste with salt and ground black pepper. Remove from heat.
Toast the bread until golden, and place each piece in a bowl. Add a ladleful of chowder around the toast. Add another ladleful partially covering toast.