Resistance Kitchen: The clam chowder of sheer survival 

Spend a weekend being a little depressed and a lot nostalgic. Run into an old fling at a bar, listen to music from high school and Bruce Springsteen in the car, cruise by the old coffee shop. Worry that you are too much, but you don't do enough. Go see Star Wars and sob heavily. Go to bed too late and resolve to make clam, corn and potato chowder on Sunday, so at least you've done something.


5 lb. smallish clams, scrubbed, or just, like, a ton of canned

8 oz. bacon, cut up, or just kind of taken out of the package poorly

2 celery stalks, cut smallish

2 big-ish shallots, minced

1 tbsp of chopped garlic

4 smallish red potatoes, diced, with skin because who cares?

16 oz. package of frozen corn

2 bay leaves, because you think yours are old

2 tbsp cornstarch

2 cups heavy cream

1 tbsp tomato paste

2 tbsp spanish style cooking wine, or cooking sherry

kosher salt

freshly ground pepper

Old Bay to taste

crusty bread to munch on

click to enlarge food_chowder_resistancekitchen_i.4.jpg


Put the clams in a big ol' pot with just enough water to cover them. Cook clams open, and toss any that don't open. Scoop the clams out of the pot and save that liquid. Don't do this if you're using canned. Just, like, get a carton of seafood broth or something in case you need it.

As you wait for clams to boil, put the bacon in a dutch oven and cook till crisp and some fat has rendered. Take the bacon out of the pot, drain on paper towels, munch on it a li'l bit, it's OK. Add the shallot, celery and garlic to the bacon grease. Add salt and pepper till it tastes about what you like. Dump the potatoes in after the shallots go clear to build some starch in the pan. After the potatoes have been going for a good minute, dump a couple cups of the hot clam water into the dutch oven, until the potatoes look pretty covered. You may have to strain the hot clam water as you dump it, because sometimes you break a clam and some shell gets in. Oops. It's fine.

While you wait for the potatoes to cook up to forkable, take the clam meat out of the shells, or pop the top shell off of the clams, whatever your aesthetic. Take some of the hot clam water and make a slurry with the cornstarch to thicken it if the potatoes don't get it to your thickness.

When the potatoes are tender, add the corn, tomato paste, and wine. Add some Old Bay—it seems right, right? Add the cornstarch if you think the chowder is too thin.

When the soup is hot again, add the cream, give it a good stir, and then add the clams—or keep them off to the side to top the thing with, because you're pretty sure while you were thinking about all the shows you taped off of Comedy Central, you over- cooked the clams, and you don't need to make it worse. If you are using canned, just dump 'em in—honestly, that's the right idea. Turn the heat off, dump the soup in some bowls, never remember to take the bay leaves out. Sit down to eat and worry that the broth separated.

You know what, you've done a good job surviving. Maybe that's the most you can muster, but you've managed to stay alive. Good job.

Resistance Kitchen is a blog about food and politics at Rachel Collins is a Cuban-American Texan who likes to complain about gas on twitter as @RachelTheC or on Tumblr as @tryingtoohardenough.


The original print version of this article was headlined "Resistance Kitchen"

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