As a general rule, I wouldn't make clam chowder for our parish priest on a Sunday in Lent. Surely he gets it constantly ... but this isn't just any old clam chowder. This is my mom's new, schnazzed-up clam chowder greatness.
Normally I wouldn't risk a new recipe on our pastor, either, especially not when it's the first time we've had him to dinner. But I figured I could trust Mom's word when she said it was good and people kept asking her for the recipe. She was right. It's amazing.
Anne Olwin's Clam Chowder
5 medium red potatoes. Cube and boil in salted water until tender. You only need enough water to cover the potatoes and use as a base to the soup. Do not discard the liquid.
Saute 2 medium onions and 10 shiitake mushrooms in butter. Add to cooked potatoes.
Add 5 cans of chopped or minced clams and the juice from three of them.
Make a roux with 1 stick of butter and 1/2 cup flour. Thin with about 1 quart of milk and add to potatoes.
Season with garlic powder, red pepper, and black pepper to taste. You want a little zip, but not too much heat with the red pepper, so start out light and let simmer for a few minutes to meld flavors. You can always add more.
Chop some fresh spinach. Place about 3/4 - 1 cup of chopped spinach in the bottom of each bowl, ladle hot chowder over top, and finish with a dollop of cream cheese. Serve with bread or crackers.
I served it with Caesar salad, warmed multigrain bread with butter and honey, and kiwi-strawberry shortcake for dessert. It definitely did not taste like Friday food.