This is some good soup! Great meatless meal, if you leave out the bacon, but it might just be too indulgent for Lent. The original recipe is from a church cookbook from the St. Francis Chapel & City Ministry in Providence, RI. My brother (Breezie) gave me a few hints on tweaking the recipe and I added a touch of my own as well. So this is how I made it. Next time, I'll probably leave out the bacon.
1/4 lb. bacon (4 or 5 slices), diced
6 ribs celery, cut thin
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
2 TBL butter
1 qt chicken stock
black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp thyme
5 or 6 potatoes, diced (I didn't peel them before dicing, just washed them well)
3 cans (6.5 oz each) minced clams, drained, juice reserved
1 package Louis Kemp "crab," sliced
1 stick butter
6 TBL flour
1 qt milk
3 TBL cornstarch
1/4 cup ice water
Dice and blanch bacon in 2 cups boiling water for about 2 minutes.
Saute celery & onions in 2 TBL butter for 10 minutes over medium heat. Don't allow to brown.
In large soup pot, add bacon, celery & onions to chicken stock. Add clam juice, pepper and thyme. Bring to a heavy simmer. Add potatoes and simmer until the potatoes are cooked but still firm.
Melt the stick of butter and blend with flour. Add this roux to 1 qt. hot milk, off the heat. Stir and return to the burner, stirring until thickened to make a bechamel sauce. Add drained clams and the bechamel to the soup. Stir and simmer 10 minutes.
Make a slurry with the cornstarch and ice water and add to the soup. Bring to a boil and stir until soup thickens. Lower the heat and simmer until ready to serve.
Yield: 4 1/2 quarts of soup.