Many years ago, this recipe came my way -- how I don't exactly remember. I'm going to post it exactly as it is written, and then how I interpreted it for this soup. Everyone raves over this soup. I'm not much of a clam chowder person, so I'm as neutral on this as I am on crabs. But if you like clam chowder, then you really must try this one.
"Reggie's Recipe by Chef Reggie Dow
The recipe for our Rhode Island Clam Chowder dates back to the earliest settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. We found it pasted to a wall while removing wallpaper in the kitchen during remodeling last year.
Recipe: In heavy pot render 4 oz. salt pork, add 1-1/2 lbs. diced onions, sautee (sic) till transparent. To this mixture add 1/2 tsp. white pepper and 1-1/2 lbs. thinly sliced potatoes. In a separate pot, cook 1/2 gal. clams (chopped) and 1/2 gal. water. Strain and cool, saving broth. Add broth to potato and onion mixture. Cook till reduced one-half and add sachet of thyme. Add 1-1/2 lbs. raw diced potatoes. Cook till al dente. Add clams, bring to boil, season and serve as you like (perhaps add cream and butter at serving time)."
And here's what I did to get the absolute best clam chowder (rating 10 out of 10):
Clam Chowder (Judy's version of Reggie's Recipe)
Rating 10 out of 10
5 dozen medium clams, scrubbed well, discard broken or open clams
2 quarts water
2 oz. salt pork (not bacon)
2 cups chopped onions
1/4 tsp. white or black pepper
3/4 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, thin sliced (about 2 cups)
3/4 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, cubed (about 2 cups)
2 cups Land o'Lakes fat-free half and half (or heavy cream if preferred)
Steam the clams in the water till they open. Remove the clams and chop the meat, discarding shells. Set aside. Strain the broth through a cheesecloth to remove sand particles.
In the meantime, render the salt pork in a very large saute` pan over medium heat. (This takes patience. It's not like bacon, in that the fat doesn't melt right away. Don't give up, it looks like it will just burn in the pan, but it won't; it will start to give off its fat and after about 5-10 minutes, you'll have something to put the onions into.) Add the onions and saute` till transparent, lowering the heat if necessary to avoid burning them. Add the thinly sliced potatoes and pepper (no salt please, the clams and salt pork add enough), and saute lightly for a few more minutes. Add the strained broth and about 2 cups water to the onion-potato mixture and bring to a boil. Cook at a very slow boil, uncovered, until mixture reduces by almost half, about 20 minutes. Cover and continue to cook on low for anothr 20 minutes. Taste it. It should be somewhat salty, but not too salty. Adding the half and half (or cream) will reduce the saltiness. Adust seasonings, adding more pepper, if needed. When ready to serve, add the chopped clams and half and half and just heat through, but do not boil. Yield: 6-8 servings