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Rich and Creamy Shrimp and Clam Chowder

There is absolutely nothing better than a steaming hot bowl of chowder on a cold day. Chowder definitely tops my list of favorite cold-weather comfort foods. I never follow a recipe when I make soups, so they are always slightly different each time. I always include bacon ( hello), onions, celery and potatoes because  I just love those flavours. Pretty much any combination of seafood would be amazing in a chowder, just make sure you add it at the last minute to prevent overcooking. To give the chowder a rich and creamy consistency, I like to thicken the soup with two different thickening methods - butter and flour ( beurre manie) and a mixture of cornstarch and water ( slurry).

Rich and Creamy Shrimp and Clam Chowder
serves: 6 to 8

6 strips of raw bacon, diced
1 onion, diced small
2 or 3 ribs of celery, diced small
14 oz. new potatoes, diced small
a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme or a pinch of dried thyme
1 or 2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups clam nectar
4 cups milk or half and half
2 -14 oz. can small clams, reserve liquid
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 lb. raw, peeled and deveined small shrimp
hot sauce to taste

 beurre manie - 1/4 soft butter + 1/4 cup flour, mix well to make a paste
slurry - 1/4. cup  cornstarch mixed with an  equal amount  of cold water

In a large saucepan cook bacon until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon  to a paper towel lined bowl. Drain off all but 1 Tbsp. bacon fat and saute onion and celery until soft about 5-8 minutes. Add potatoes, thyme, bay leaf, Worcestershire, season with salt and pepper. Add clam nectar, juice from clams and milk. Bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low, cover with a lid and cook until potatoes are very tender, about 40 minutes.  Turn up heat to  medium. Add the butter/flour mixture a small amount at a time. Stir well. Boil gently for two minutes. Add the cornstarch/water mixture, stirring well, until you achieve the desired consistency. Stir in clams, bacon and shrimp. Cook just until the shrimp turn opaque. Remove from heat. Season to taste.

Tags: Soup, Clam, Seafood, Chowder

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