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Rhode Island White Clam Chowder

The first time I had Rhode Island clam chowder, I looked at it and thought what is this thin liquid? Then I tasted it and thought I'd gone to heaven. Unlike the Manhattan, New England, and Chesapeake varieties which, although I do love them, seem to be getting so thick that soon you'll have to cut them with a knife, Rhode Island Clam Chowder is light, even refreshing for a summer evening treat. It is also exceedingly easy to make, but purists would suggest that you must use Rhode Island quahogs for the right flavor. I cannot disagree, but then again, I may not be able to wait till I get there either.


  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 8 ounces Quahogs, chopped (liquid reserved)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup clam juice
  • 1 cup peeled and coarsely chopped potatoes
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup Half & Half or heavy cream
  • Dash thyme
  • Dash salt
  • Dash white pepper

In a 3-quart saucepan, saute onion and celery in 2 tablespoons butter until transparent. Add liquid from clams, clam juice, chicken broth and potatoes. Simmer until potatoes are tender.

Make a roux by browning the flour in melted butter stirring constantly (and I mean non-stop). It is important not to overbrown the butter. Once it starts to bubble, it will brown very quickly (about 5 minutes total). If you get black speckles in it, it is ruined and you must start over. MOST IMPORTANT, when the flour is golden brown, add liquid from the soup spoon by spoon, whisking quickly to dissolve. If you add the liquid to the roux, you won't get lumps (shhhh, that's a secret for all gravies and roux). Once it's thin enough to pour, you can add the whole amount into the soup to thicken it. Add the clams and cook just a few minutes until you get a creamy texture. Then add the remaining ingredients and heat through. Do not boil at this point or the milk will curdle.

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