This chowder is based on a recipe from a well-known restaurant in Salt Lake City that is now closed. While not a traditional, long simmered New England clam chowder, this rendition is equally delicious and takes only minutes to prepare. The “secret ingredient” is red wine vinegar. I prefer to use waxy, unpeeled potatoes such as Yukon Golds, rather than russets. Over the years, I have adapted this recipe to include fresh or dried thyme and substituted malt vinegar for the red wine vinegar.
2 cans (6.5 oz each) minced clams and juice
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 cup diced celery
2 cups finely diced potatoes
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup flour
1 qt half and half
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons red wine or malt vinegar
Drain juice from clams and set aside.
Combine onions, celery, potatoes and thyme in large saucepan. Pour reserved clam juice over vegetables. Add just enough water to barely cover vegetables.
Bring vegetables to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cover pot and simmer over medium heat until vegetables are barely tender, about 6-7 minutes. (Do NOT drain vegetables!)
In the meantime, in a large saucepan, melt butter, whisk in flour and continue to cook, stirring constantly for one minute.
Whisk in half and half to butter and flour mixture and continue cooking while whisking constantly until mixture is smooth and thickened (this is important). Add salt and pepper.
Add vegetables and cooking stock, clams and vinegar to cream mixture and heat through. Do not boil.
Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, and a dash more thyme if desired.