Everyone in my family is crazy about my recipe for slow cooker skinny clam chowder. Every year we go to visit my bothers in Mendocino County, up in the wine country above Mendocino Lake. On the way up we stop in San Francisco for clam chowder eaten out of a sourdough bread bowl at Fisherman’s Warf. Mmmm! OK, I know it’s a tourist spot. I know it will be packed to the brim with people, parking will be horrendous, and we’ll have to stand in line for a table to eat, but it’s so nice to walk in the cool air after being in the car for 13 hours. The playful sea lions that occupy the docks are so much fun to watch, and how can I pass on the aroma coming from the Boudin Bakery, where we’re attracted to, to pick up a couple of loaves of bread to take to my brothers. And the chowder… we’ve got to eat the chowder on this exceptional day.
But eating clam chowder once a year isn’t enough. After our trip last year I came home looking for good recipes. I found two while I was scavenging for them; one at BakedbyRachel, and the other at Splash Café. Both of them use heavy cream in their recipe, and that’s fine for a special day, but for day to day eating I want healthy soups that won’t raise my husband’s cholesterol level. You can cut the fat and still have scrumptious chowder—the boys in my family will attest to that.
Little changes made in every day actions can show better results than big changes over less time. This is why I have gradually gone from being about 10 pounds overweight and arthritic, to being healthy and active, and my husband to being healthy and at a lower risk for heart disease. And neither of us felt that we gave up something along the way. We eat healthier now, enjoy the food more, and feel more stable.
- 2 pounds potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into 1/3- inch cubes—no larger
- 1 cup celery, cubed to 1/3 inch
- 1-¼ cup onion, finely chopped
- 1-½ teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 slices bacon, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/3 teaspoon thyme
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups fat-free ½&½, or low-fat ½&½
- ½ cup non-fat milk, or water
- 1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
- 3 6-½ ounce cans chopped clams
- Strain the juice from the canned clams into a large pot, and reserve the clams for later.
- Add the clam juice, the ½ & ½, the chopped potatoes, and bring to a simmer. Once this comes to a simmer, pour the ingredients into the slowcooker. Set the cooker on high for 4 hours.
- Cook the bacon in a skillet until it is just crispy, but not burned. Strain and discard the bacon fat, and then set the bacon aside for later.
- Add the olive oil to the pan along with the celery and onion. Sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the onion is shiny and transparent. Add the garlic and sauté 2 more minutes. Next, add ¼ cup flour, cook with the vegetables for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, and then add the vegetables to the slowcooker, along with the bay leaf, thyme, and salt. (Add the salt little by little. Maybe just ½ teaspoon is enough for your tastebuds. You can always add salt, but you can never remove it.)
- Stir once an hour and add the bacon and the clams in the last ½ hour of cooking.