The one kind of soup that my husband loves the most is Clam Chowder. I wondered if I could find an old recipe that was dynamite and would make him rethink his favorite Clam Chowder…and I did. I give you one word: Bacon. Almost every recipe that I found for Clam Chowder from 1800 to 1920 started with bacon. My recipe is a mash-up of several that I read. But the common things are: Bacon, they didn’t use cream and most only had potatoes, bacon, clams, milk and crackers. I’m more familiar with using flour to thicken soups, so the main one I used had that method.
The first recipe above, that I used as to create my own recipe, was printed in the The Cincinnati Enquirer on October 15, 1905. The second recipe was printed in The Nebraska State Journal on April 18, 1920.
Clam Chowder. Cut 4 strips of bacon into small pieces. Fry a delicate brown. Into this slice 1 onion and 2 cupfuls of potatoes and toss till slightly brown. Add 1 cupful of water and cover well. Cook 15 minutes. Add 1 quart of milk and bring to a boil. Thicken with 2 tablespoonfuls of flour dissolved in 1/2 cup of milk. Boil slowly 5 minutes to cook the starch. Add one canful of minced clams. (If you cannot get minced clams, use one can of clam chowder to give the flavor.) Bring just to a boil. Serve in large, old fashioned soup dishes with salt crackers. This chowder, with the addition of a good salad will make a whole meal. If you do not wish to use the bacon, fry the onion and potato in vegetable oil.
Clam Chowder. Cut six medium-sized potatoes into dice, put them in a very large stew pan, add some white table celery cut into small pieces, two finely cut carrots, one small onion and turnip, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, add two quarts of water, place on stove and boil slowly. Stew a can of tomatoes for 10 minutes, mash them through a sieve, add to the vegetables also one tablespoon sweet butter. Cut a slice of bacon in small pieces, fry it crisp, drain it from the grease, add it to the broth. Brown one tablespoon flour in the bacon grease, add it to the broth. Cut three dozen clams in quarters, add them and their liquor to the broth. Boil about five minutes. Add a few broken crackers if desired, season with additional salt and pepper, also a little Worcestershire sauce, but do not boil after crackers are added.
Old-fashioned Clam Chowder
- 4 slices bacon cut into cubes
- 6 medium potatoes diced
- 3 stalks celery sliced thin
- 2 medium carrots sliced thin
- 1 small onion diced
- 4 cups whole milk
- 3 tbsp Flour mixed smooth with 1/2 cup whole milk
- 3 small cans clams
- 16 ounces clam juice
- salt & pepper to taste
In a large pot, fry bacon until crisp.
Mix in potatoes and vegetables and fry for about 5 minutes.
Add the clam juice and boil gently for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes and vegetables are tender.
Add the milk and bring to a boil. In the meantime, mix the flour with 1/2 cup milk until smooth. Add this mixture to the soup once the milk starts to boil. Boil gently for about 5 minutes to thicken the soup.
Turn off the heat, mix in the clam and let stand for 5 minutes to allow the clams to heat through.
Serve with crackers.