When I was a kid my taste in soup was sort of an aberration compared to my other culinary preferences. I had a pretty typical kid palate when it came to most things; I lived on peanut butter and jelly (I seemingly haven’t evolved much in that area), loved grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken nuggets, and all of the stereotypical things that most kids don’t venture far from. Now soup was a different story. Sure, I would happily eat a bowl of chicken noodle or tomato soup, but my true love was New England clam chowder. What?! How?! I still don’t understand it to this day, other than maybe reasoning that it was the abundance of potatoes and the creamy texture that I adored, but this soup love certainly didn’t jive with my unwillingness to try most other things. I can remember my mom and grandma both keeping their pantries stocked with cans of this and (gasp!) if either of them dare try to throw in a Manhattan clam chowder in the event that they ran out of New England, take cover. That was completely unacceptable to me and I would not eat it. My young little foodie heart belonged to New England clam chowder. And it has only taken me 25+ years to make a homemade version, ha!
The key to my finding a good homemade recipe was that it could not require the use of fresh clams. Living in Pittsburgh, the ability to easily buy fresh clams and not spend an arm and a leg for a pot of soup really just isn’t there. So I was thrilled when I found a work-around with the canned, minced clams and bottled clam juice. I was amazed at how fantastic this tasted, how close to my early memories of clam chowder it came, and of course (though not surprisingly) how superior it is to what comes out of a can.
I’m enjoying keeping up with the soup portion of my 2012 resolutions, having made a fresh batch last week (Chicken Noodle) and this week. The best part? Both of them are incredibly warm and hearty soups, and can be made in less than an hour.