One of San Francisco's most famed dishes is white clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl. If you can't make it down to Fisherman's Wharf, you can savor this filling soup in the comfort of your own home. Don't be overwhelmed by cooking with clams; this soup is actually simple to make and comes together in less than an hour. The creamy soup is full of juicy clams and chunky potatoes. When served in a bread bowl it becomes a fun meal perfect for entertaining. To see the recipe, read more.
6 pounds cherrystone clams
3 medium-sized onions, each coarsely chopped but kept separate
1 rib of celery (with leaves), cut into 2-inch pieces
1 carrot, peeled and halved
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme plus
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 cups water
1/2 cup clam juice
1/2 pound slab bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 small white new potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cups heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Bread bowl (optional), for serving, see video below
- Wash the clams well in cold water and put into a heavy soup pot. Add 1 chopped onion, the celery, carrot, 1 bay leaf, and the thyme sprigs.
- Add water and clam juice. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the clams open, shaking the pot occasionally. Remove clams from their shells, pouring any remaining broth back into the pot.
- Cover the clams and set aside. Strain the broth through a fine sieve and set aside.
- Add the bacon to the pot and cook over low heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is slightly crisp, about 10 minutes.
- Add the remaining chopped onions, the remaining bay leaf, chopped thyme, and butter. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring, to wilt the onions.
- Add the potatoes and the strained broth. Simmer, partially covered, over medium heat for 12 to 15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through. Skim any foam that rises to the surface.
- Meanwhile, coarsely chop the reserved clams. Add them to the pot along with the cream; simmer over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes or until the clams are just cooked through. Do not overcook or clams will be chewy.
- Season generously with pepper and stir in the parsley. Serve in bread bowl, if desired.