A nice bowl of this chowder goes well with some Keebler Club® crackers and butter on a cold winter day, so I decided to make a really good batch today after getting rid of a 12" deep March snowfall. I combined various Internet recipes and added my own ideas. The following recipe is my takeoff from one similar to that used by Emeril of the Food Network®. It is robust and quite tasty. You can skip the optional Hot Sauce and crushed red pepper flakes if you do not like highly seasoned foods. Like many soups this one is better the second day. Enjoy!
Ingredients: (makes about a gallon of chowder, enough for eight large servings)
6, 6.5 oz. cans of chopped clams in clam juice
1 lb. of cooked shrimp, peeled and chopped
6 slices of bacon
3 cups of finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups of finely chopped celery
1 cup of chopped bell green pepper
3 tbsp. of finely chopped fresh garlic cloves
3 bay leaves
2 tsp. of dried oregano
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
3 very large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes or slices
2, 14 oz. cans of chicken broth
1, 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
2, 12 oz. cans of V-8® vegetable juice
1 tsp. of Texas Pete’s® Hot Sauce (optional)
1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tsp. of freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. of Sea salt
Open each can of chopped clams and transfer them to a large bowl after draining the clam juice from the can into a separate bowl. Let the clam juice rest for a minute and then decant the juice into a second bowl, making sure to leave behind any sand or other unwanted matter in the first bowl.
Set the bowls of clams and broth aside.
Add the bacon to a large heavy pot and fry the bacon on low to medium heat until it is crispy. Pour off all of the fat except for 4 tablespoons. Remove the bacon and break it into small pieces.
Add the onion, celery and bell pepper pieces to the pot and sauté them for 10 minutes, until they are softened. Do not allow the vegetables to brown. Lower the heat if necessary.
Add the chopped garlic, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, Texas Pete’s® Hot Sauce and crushed red pepper and cook an additional 2 minutes.
Increase the heat to high and add the diced potatoes, the bacon pieces, the clam broth, the diced tomatoes/juice, the V-8® juice and the chicken broth and bring the mixture to a boil, covered.
Simmer for 20 minutes on low heat, or until the potatoes are tender and the broth has slightly thickened.
Remove the pot from the heat and add the reserved chopped clams, shrimp pieces and parsley and season the chowder with the pepper and salt.
Allow the chowder to sit, covered, for up to 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld, then reheat the chowder slowly over low heat. Bring it to a simmer but do not allow the chowder to boil.