Unlike commercial canned chowders, which seem to be in competition to see what brand can be the most gelatinous, this is fresh chowder — make that chowdah — with heavy cream, fish stock, salt pork, potatoes, onions, and those wonderful littleneck clams. Herbs add their own flavor notes. Serve this chowder in hot, wide bowls.
- Quahog or Cherrystone Clams - 3 dozen littleneck,
- Water or Fish Broth - 1 quart
- Bouquet Garni - 1, 3 fresh thyme sprigs, 1 bay leaf, and 1 small bunch of parsley, tied together
- Salt pork - 1/4 pound, or 5 bacon slices cut into 1-inch-by-1/4-inch strips
- Onions - 4 chopped, medium
- Potatoes - 3 medium, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 2 cups
- Fresh Parsley - 1 tablespoon, finely chopped
- Fresh Chives - 1 tablespoon, finely chopped
- Fresh Dill - 1 tablespoon, finely chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Scrub the clams and put them into a 4-quart pot with the water and bouquet garni. Cover the pot and bring it to a simmer to steam open the clams. When the clams have all opened, after about 12 minutes, take them out with a slotted spoon. Strain the cooking liquid through a triple layer of cheesecloth and reserve. Take the clams out of their shells. If they’re large, cut them in half or quarters. Keep tem covered with plastic wrap in a bowl until needed.
In a heavy-bottomed 4-quart pot, cook the salt pork or bacon for 10 minutes, until the fat has rendered and the pieces are crisp. Remove the pieces with a slotted spoon, turn down the heat, and add the onion. When the onions start to soften and turn translucent, about 10 minutes, add the potatoes and cooking liquid from the clams. Simmer the soup for about 10 minutes to cook the potatoes. Add the heavy cream, parsley, chives, and dill, and simmer for 1 minute more. Add the reserved clams, season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately in hot wide bowls.