25 February, 2010

National Clam Chowder Day! (Fishy Delights 30)

Today - February 25th - is National Clam Chowder Day.  I don't know who comes up with stuff like that, but it just so happens that not only do I really like clam chowder, but I also recently enjoyed  a can of Bar Harbor Food's clam chowder for lunch.
Although I prefer to make my own clam chowder, the condensed canned variety holds a special place in my memories; my mom served us New England clam chowder the way some other moms served chicken noodle soup.  Her preferred brand was Snow's, but after a series of moves, mergers, and buyouts since 1990, Snow's ain't what it used to be and no longer has a place on my pantry shelf.  I've tried a number of brands of canned New England clam chowder in the past couple years, and have found the big national brands (Snow's, Campbell's, and Progresso, to name a few) to be pretty nasty stuff.

Not so with Bar Harbor.   Stirring a can of the condensed soup with an equal amount  of milk (using the soup can as a measuring tool) over low heat just until the chowder is bubbling hot brings me back to Mom's kitchen when I was ten years old.  Rich and clammy, smooth and without any of the unpleasant gumminess of lesser brands, I've never had to doctor up a can of Bar Harbor with extra clams or potatoes to make it satisfying.  This is a canned chowder of choice.

Just like my Mom used to, I put a pat of butter in the bottom of the bowl before ladling in the chowder, and top it off with a grind of black pepper.  There's hardly anything more welcome when coming in from shoveling a snowy driveway than a steaming mug of clam chowder.  Well...hot chocolate comes close, I guess.



Michele said...

I haven't had a canned clam chowder in over 10 years because of the pasty texture. If I can make it through the snow today I'll pick up a can of Bar Harbor on your recommendation and give it a chance. My mother always put a pat of butter in the bowl and added a generous amount of black pepper to the top as well. Mom's are very smart creatures. :)

Eating The Road said...

I'm not sure if I've ever enjoyed a canned clam chowder. I've never thought of cooking it with condensed milk...very novel...any food that harkens back to Mom's kitchen delights at 10 years old is a-ok in my book. Wish I could get my paws on a can of this. I love a good (hot..hot) clam chowder...I even (after enjoying is sans) add a little Tabasco.

Stella said...

True Dat! Bar Harbor is a very decent canned Clam Chowder. I too try to make my own, but I have picked up a can or two of this brand from Publix's natural and organic foods isle on busy days. Good review.

Dave said...

Michele - Of the "leading" chowders, Snow's is flavorless and has strange grey lumps that resist dissolving in the soup; Campbell's is kind of gummy and has a metallic flavor, and Progresso reminds me of glue. Bar Harbor and Olde Cape Cod are the only canned chowders I'll buy any more.

ETR - Your comment made me realize that my instructions were too easily misunderstood, so I've edited the post. I didn't mean to add a can-of-milk, but to add regular milk to the chowder using the chowder can as a measuring device. Mea culpa.

TryIndy said...

I think Trader Joe's has some good canned clam chowder.