This is my Northwest Clam Chowder.
Clam Chowder is one of those dishes that defines the Pacific Northwest.
While our chowders are similar to New England Clam Chowder, we goofy Northwesterners are too independent to just follow that status quo.
So grab a shovel & a pair of hip-waders, dig up some local clams (Razor Clams, Horse, Geoduck, Cockles or Steamers) and swing by your farmers market on the way back to the kitchen!
We are so blessed to live in an area so rich with great quality foods, both wild and locally grown. While there are many recipes for chowder, I believe that the beauty of Chowder is that as long as the chef uses the few key ingredients, it is really versatile. No longer do I follow a recipe book when making Clam Chowder, but I do always use a few staples and it always turns out amazing! For the true Pacific Northwest foodies, challenge yourself to only add locally sourced ingredients. Onion? Go for a Walla Walla Sweet. Carrots? Pick some up at your local farmers market. Clams? Find your local beach that is open for shellfish harvest and grab a shovel! I am challenging you to step away from the supermarket and truly explore your local options!
- Fresh Razor Clams
- Potatoes (diced)
- Carrots (shredded)
- Celery (chopped)
- Walla Walla Sweet Onion (finely chopped)
- Bacon (2-3 slices chopped)
- Butter (1tbsp)
- Chicken Broth (About 1 Qt)
- Half & Half (About 1 Qt)
- Bay Leaf
In a large soup pot cook Bacon over medium heat, when the bacon is cooked remove from pot and add Onion finely chopped and Butter to the bacon grease. If you prefer to have more bacon in your chowder, you’re going to want to drain some of the excess bacon grease from the soup pot. Stir & cook until Onion is translucent, then add Carrots, Potatoes, Celery. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes (we want to allow the veggies a little time to partially cook through). Add Chicken Broth and cook over Med/High heat, allow to gently boil for about 10 minutes. Add seasonings. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add half a limit of Razor Clams, including the nectar!
***NOTE: STIR OCCASIONALLY THROUGH THE ENTIRE PROCESS***
A lot of folks will buy clam juice for their chowder, but typically when you clean Razor Clams you are going to have enough nectar on your own. Make sure that nectar is saved, because it really adds a lot of flavor to your chowder.
Once the Razor Clams are added, add Half & Half and the cooked Bacon. Over Medium/Low heat allow to cook for about 5-10 minutes. If it starts to slightly boil earlier than that, reduce heat immediately. Reduce heat to Low, allow to simmer for another 15 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
I love making a large batch of Northwest Clam Chowder on say a Sunday afternoon, not only will you have a great Sunday dinner, but you can portion out the extra chowder into Tupperware and offer up the family a great lunch for the first half of the week.
For those that like a little thicker Chowder, mixing in a little Flour will do the trick.
I hope you get a chance to enjoy this recipe. If you do I guarantee it will become a standard meal at your home too! Enjoy!