The best soup recipe I’ve ever had came from a man who was dying.

Paul was a brilliant engineer in his early 30’s, with a lovely wife and 2 young sons. An attractive and personable man, he was gray the day we met, having just come back from a morning chemo session.

In a quiet voice, co workers explained. Hodgkins Disease.

It started out as a friendly cooking competition. I was bragging about my holiday pies, claiming I made the best crust ever. I was one of 2 women who worked in that engineering office, the other didn’t cook at all.

So, the men took up the challenge. There were 4 or 5 of us, and I could tell by the results just exactly who had done the baking.

It turns out that Paul was the primary cook in his family.

We talked often about food, it was a safe common bond. He shared with me a clam chowder recipe that came from a renowned seafood chef in Salt Lake City.

It is handwritten on an index card, with cartoon-like illustrations, that I keep in a much loved recipe box.

I made it this morning. It is not only delicious, it evokes wonderful memories of a time, a place, a dear friend.

He passed away at home, with his family, in the early 1980’s.



New England Clam Chowder

Chop 1 cup onion, 1 cup celery and 2 cups peeled potatoes. Cover with the juice from 2 cans of chopped clams, reserving clams for later.

Add enough water just to cover vegetables. Boil gently till tender. 10-15 minutes.

Make white sauce in separate pan. Melt 1/2 cup butter, add 1/2 cup flour and stir. Gradually add 4 cups milk. (Can use any combination of milk or cream). Cook over low light till thickened.

Add white sauce to vegetables. Add reserved clams.

 Season with salt, pepper, parsley flakes and a TBS of wine or wine vinegar.

Serve with oyster crackers, or crusty bread.

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38 Responses to Chowder

  1. Nurse Kelly says:

    Beautiful tribute to your friend – thanks for sharing such a touching memory. I feel the same way about certain recipes that evoke memories of gatherings with family and friends. The soup looks delicious – thanks for the recipe! xo

  2. Erika Kind says:

    Oh, that is touching, Van! How lovely that you tell us the story behind the recipe. 💖

  3. I’m sure those conversations about cooking brightened his final days. The soup looks delicious – must be the wine that adds that something special.

    • The wine works for me, CM…I keep Marsala around all the time, using it for this and many other dishes…mellow. ☺ He was someone I speak of often. Only knew him a few years, but he left a mark. ❤️

  4. A very touching story Van and a wonderful recipe! thanks for sharing this!

    • My pleasure, Lynn. Years ago, my daughter offered to digitize all my recipes. I had to explain why I didn’t want that. ❤️ There are many other sweet memories.

      • Yes having those written down and from other people as well is so special! I am sure you think of that dear friend whenever you make this! Such a special memory to share! I love recipes with a story!

  5. I copied down the recipe this morning and I think it’s on the menu today. A touching story, I would love to be remembered that way someday ❤

  6. Van
    Thanks for letting me carry on like a child. That was my first big hit. I meds keep increasing each week. Plus construction work on house.
    I’m better today. I plan a nice thanks to my husband. He’ll never see, that’s ok, I’d have to widen dos for the big head. HAHA

  7. George says:

    Beautiful story, Van and one that brings your friend to life every time you tell it and every time you make this delicious looking recipe. Now, thirty five years later, people are still learning about Paul through you. What a great tribute.

  8. Just Plain Ol' Vic says:

    Great story. I absolutely love clam chowder, so this post hit the heart and the stomach!

  9. AmyRose🌹 says:

    Beautiful, Van!!! Every time you make and eat this clam chowder, memories of a dear friend are around. How wonderful! As for the recipe, it’s a keeper and I am writing it down!! Thank you!! ❤

  10. lbeth1950 says:

    Thanks. This looks wonderful.

  11. Sounds delicious! Sending the very best wishes for a most Merry Christmas to you.
    peace in our time, Eddie

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