Aquarius Clam Chowder

Serves 8-12

2 pounds canned chopped clams, juices reserved

2-3 cups bottled clam juice

4 bacon slices, minced

1 onion, diced

2 cups celery, diced

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2-3 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped

1 pound potatoes, peeled and diced

3 cups heavy cream

6 tablespoons Madeira wine, or to taste

Salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Tabasco sauce, to taste

Worcestershire sauce, to taste

Oyster crackers, for garnish

1. Drain the juice from the minced clams, and combine with enough bottled juice to equal 3 cups of liquid.

2. Cook the bacon slowly in a soup pot over medium heat until lightly crisp, about 8 minutes.

3. Add onion and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, until they are translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add flour; cook over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 2 to 3 minutes.

4. Whisk in the clam juice; bring to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The liquid should be the consistency of heavy cream. If it is too thick, add more clam juice to adjust the consistency. Add the bay leaf and fresh thyme.

5. Add potatoes; simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, place the clams and cream in a saucepan; simmer until clams are cooked, about 5 to 8 minutes.


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7. When the potatoes are tender, add the clams and cream to the soup base. Simmer for 1-2 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce. Serve with oyster crackers on the side.

-- Brian Drosenos, executive chef, Aquarius Restaurant, Santa Cruz