New England Fish and Clam Chowder
10-12 tasting portions or 6-8 full servings
10-12 tasting portions or 6-8 full servings
  1. In a large stockpot over low heat, cook the bacon (if using) until crisp on both sides. Using tongs, transfer to paper towels to drain. Crumble the bacon into small pieces or, if you prefer, cut it into slightly larger pieces and set aside. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pot.
  2. Add the olive oil to the stockpot and warm over low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, for about 6 minutes, or until the onions are soft and just beginning to turn color. Add just a pinch of salt (clams are very briny, i.e., salty) and pepper and half of the thyme, and stir well. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute, until the potatoes are thoroughly coated with the herbs and onions.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk and cream to a very gentle simmer.
  4. Add the haddock and clams to the vegetables and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the flour. Cook, stirring the flour into the fish and vegetables, for about 1 minute. Turn the heat to medium-low. Add the clam juice and fish stock, stir well, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add half of the bacon and the remaining thyme and bring to a gentle simmer. Turn the heat to low and add half of the parsley and the cayenne. Cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
  5. Stir the warm milk mixture into the chowder. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, and cayenne if needed, and cook another 3 to 4 minutes, or until the soup is quite hot.
  6. Ladle the chowder into mugs or bowls and top with a sprinkling of the remaining parsley and some of the remaining bacon. Serve with the biscuits alongside.
Recipe Notes

TO GO: After adding the clam juice and fish stock, remove the soup from the heat. Add the warm milk and cream to the chowder off the heat. Pack the parsley and the bacon separately. At the party, gently reheat the chowder over low heat, being careful not to overcook the clams. Taste and adjust the seasoning, and sprinkle with remaining bacon and parsley before serving.