I absolutely needed to make San Francisco Clam Chowder this week.
Our weather in San Diego this week has been rainy and cold this week. Technically it’s been slightly overcast and in the 60s (but hey, we’re kind of wimpy here). This slightly below-average weather had me craving some good hearty comfort food, specifically in the form of creamy soup.
We also happen have this amazing bakery here in San Diego that sells awesome breads, which had me all excited about bread bowls.
So really, the stars aligned and all that…
Incidentally, the bakery that I’m obsessed with currently is called Bread and Cie. Again, it’s another Hillcrest gem (one of the best neighborhood for foodies in San Diego, in my opinion). Bread and Cie distributes all over San Diego to many of the grocery stores and restaurants, so you don’t necessarily need to go to Hillcrest and brave the parking situation to acquire their baked goods. However I think it’s worth a stop to the bakery as they always have incredibly fresh breads and you can always pick up a macaron or two to go.
San Francisco clam chowder is basically a creamy New England clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl. It’s the sourdough that makes it a west-coast dish rather than an east-coast dish. Allegedly, the first sourdough bread bowl + clam chowder creation came from the San Francisco restaurant, Boudin, whose business is still up and running along Fisherman’s Wharf. (Also they’re a chain now so we can get Boudin clam chowder in San Diego if we want, but somehow the experience just isn’t quite the same…)
I love to use Yukon Gold potatoes because I think the flavor and texture is the best. If you don’t have these at your grocery store or they don’t look particularly good Russets would be a fine alternative. Mmm, bacon. ‘Nuff said. Look at those beautiful bread bowls (technically called bread boules, which basically just means “bread ball” in french). So crispy. So delicious. For any bread, I always recommend that if you’re not planning to use it right away, freeze it immediately. Fresh bread will go stale so quickly (yes, even using the “towel method”), and refrigeration kills the texture of nice bread.
Adapted from Epicurious
- 10 oz canned clams, chopped
- 3 cups of bottled clam juice
- 2-3 slices of bacon, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 medium-sized yukon gold potatoes (about 1 lb), peeled, and diced into 1 inch cubes
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup half and half
- 1/4 cup cooking sherry
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2-1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
- Black pepper, to taste
- A few dashes of worcestershire sauce, to taste
- A few dashes of tobasco, to taste
- 4 sourdough bread bowls
- Saute diced bacon in a heavy bottom stock pot, or dutch oven, stirring often, until browned.
- Add diced onion to the bacon and saute until onions become translucent.
- Add flour to onion and bacon mixture and mix until well-coated.
- Add clam juice to mixture and stir to dissolve flour. Allow mixture to come to a boil for approximately 5 minutes. The mixture should become slightly thickened, approximately the same thickness as cream. If it is too thick, add additional water.
- Add thyme and bay leaf to stock.
- Add chopped potatoes and simmer, covered, for approximately 15 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender.
- Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring cream and half-and-half to a simmer. Add clams and cook for about 5-8 minutes.
- Once potatoes are fully cooked, combine with cream and clam mixture.
- Bring entire soup to a simmer for about 1-2 minutes.
- Add sherry, salt, pepper, worcestershire, and tobasco to taste.
- Ladle into heated sourdough bread bowls.
- Serve with a light green salad.