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Creamy Clam Chowder, gluten free

by Karen on December 2nd, 2009

Perfect with a salad on a cold winter day.

My husband recently returned from his annual trek to Westport, WA to dig razor clams.

Steamed Butter Clams, naturally gluten free

As a family we typically dig small, butter clams up at Lopez Island in the summer when the weather is beautiful and the minus tide empties the bay. The kids and their friends roam the bay looking for purple starfish and red anemones; they eventually get around to digging some clams. We feed the clams cornmeal in a bucket of seawater for the rest of the afternoon and then steam them in butter, garlic and wine for dinner.

We have also dug clams at a friends’ place on Hood River where the clams sit just under the surface of the sand and you can gather an amazing number of butter clams in mere minutes. We gathered so many that day– we filled two 5-gallon paint buckets with clams and sea water which put my back out for two weeks after carrying the load up to the house. (The oysters that cover the beaches up on Hood River are terrific as well….grilled on the barbie…but that is another story.)

One year up at Lopez we made an attempt to dig geoduck (gooey-duck) which was quite a challenge since they are huge—they know you are trying to dig them up—they burrow deeper and suction themselves away from your reach ( 2-3 feet deep). Only the big guy is capable of wrestling with a geoduck. I guess this is why they can live at least 168 years!

I imagine the challenge of digging razor clams is somewhere in between digging the easy little butter clams and the elusive geoduck.

Fried Razor Clams

Razor clam season is always in the late fall when it is cold and wet. I have never gone because I am a wimp and my waders are a vintage version without insulation (my husband has the latest and greatest waders with enviable warmth). He generally manages to talk one of the kids into going and it is a great father/child outing.

This year he was unable to get any of our teenagers to go (big surprise!) so he went with his friend and brought back the limit. We always talk about making clam chowder and past attempts have bombed, so this year we went straight to quickly deep frying a portion of the razor clams simply dipped in an egg wash then into the Multi Blend GF flour mix. The result was similar to delicate, fried calamari—fantastic.

Gluten Free Clam Chowder

We had plenty of clam meat leftover so it was time to master a gluten free chowder recipe. I pulled three different recipes online and made up my own recipe with what I happened to have on hand. One recipe that I drew from called for clam juice, which I thought I had in the cupboard and at the last minute realized I didn’t so I made further adjustments and found I didn’t really need it– the chowder was delicious.

The kids have only had clam chowder two times in their life on a weekend visit to Portland’s Corbett Fish House They loved it so much we went there for lunch two days in a row. They are now thrilled with this recipe for clam chowder. I hope you enjoy it—might be a good respite between the big holiday meals.


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Gluten-Free Creamy Clam Chowder

Be sure you’ve cleaned the clams and extracted the meat before you begin the soup. Prepping the clams takes a bit of time.  Serve with a big salad.

(makes 6 servings)

6 slices of thick bacon
1 large leek, diced, look for one that has a long white stalk
2 ½ cups russet potatoes
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons GF flour mix
2 cups or more milk
Salt and pepper to taste
3/4 pound razor clam meat

Cook, drain and chop the bacon. Reserve the bacon fat and set aside.
Sauté the white part of a diced leek in one tablespoon or so of reserved bacon fat. Cut potatoes into quarters and boil until easily pierced with a fork. Skins should easily remove. Dice potatoes and mash about ½ the quantity.

When you are ready to assemble the soup shortly before serving, place cooked bacon, leeks, and potatoes in a saucepan and add the heavy cream. Heat thoroughly while stirring constantly.

Make a roux by melting the butter in a small pan and add the flour mix, stir to combine. Add some of the milk to the roux and stir until well incorporated. Add the roux to the soup along with the rest of the milk. When the soup has heated through again, stirring constantly, add the clams and cook until clams are no longer translucent (just a few minutes). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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From → Soup, The Food

2 Comments
  1. Is this lovely and thick? I’ve been trying to come up with a GF clam chowder recipe that’s thick, like they serve it in San Francisco. This looks like a winner!

  2. I made the Creamy GF Clam Chowder for the family tonight using the above recipe as a guide and it IS delicious! I am now inspired to go clean the remaining limits our family dug today and they will be more willing to help me. Thank you for sharing!

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