This is a two part recipe, but it is pretty simple, even with all the chopping. The first part is prepping the clam broth and clams, the second is the actual chowder. You can skip the first part and simply use canned clams and a bottle of clam juice. I won't tell, but using fresh clams does taste better. If you have a bit of onion, scallion or tomato on hand you can add it, but it is not necessary. Don't make yourself crazy!
Part 1: Clams and Broth
15 littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 plum tomatoes, chopped (optional)
1/2 onion chopped, (optional)
1/3 cup of white wine
1/3 cup of water
Heat oil in large pot or dutch oven. Add onion and tomatoes, cook for 2 minutes. Add clams, making sure they are all closed. Add water and wine. Cover, shake pan, and let steam for 7-10 minutes until clams are open. Discard any that remain closed.
Remove clams from pan into a bowl. Let them cool enough to touch, and remove the meat from the shell with a fork. Chop roughly. (Minced fine, or barely chopped, whichever you prefer.) Set aside. Meanwhile, pour the remaining broth into a bowl taking care to leave any sediment that may have collected on the bottom of the pan. Rinse out the pot to use for the chowder.
Part 2: The Chowder
2 slices bacon, chopped (optional, you can use 2 tablespoons of olive oil or butter instead)
1 large onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, sliced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2-3 potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, chopped
28 oz can diced tomatoes (or fresh if in season)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
In a large pan or dutch oven, cook the bacon. After it is just browned, add onion, celery, and green bell pepper. Cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, reserved broth, and potatoes. Let cook until potatoes are done, about 15-20 minutes. Add clams and additional liquid if desired and cook another 10-15 minutes. Add parsley; season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with crusty bread and a salad. (P.S. I hear folks have done this in a crockpot to great success, though I would leave the clams until the end.) Enjoy!