I purchased this can of Bar Harbor New England Style Clam Chowder, like, ages ago (thank God these things keep forever!) and finally decided to give it a try today, before the weather changes for good and pushes soup out of my mind for a further six months.
It was an impulse buy in the first place, as I wasn't looking for clam chowder specifically - to be honest I hadn't even heard about it at the time.
But it sounded interesting and yummy, and the can's so stylish and pretty that I couldn't help wanting it!
The blurb on the label goes:
All-natural seafood speaks for itself.
The taste of wind, weather, and clear cold water; it's not a flavor that needs improving. We create our New England Clam Chowder in small batches, like people on the Maine coast have been doing for generations - loaded with juicy clams and simple, all-natural ingredients. It's as close to fresh off the docks of Maine as you can get without being here.
Bar Harbor is a special place. You can taste it!
Sooo... Not only I got myself an American staple, but one from New England! That mythical place that is and will always be, in my mind, peopled by the likes of Hester Prynne and the Deep Ones, Gordon Pym and the Pequod crew, not to mention every Stephen King character since the dawn of time!
Now here's the opened can, filled with pearly white stuff studded with clams and bits o' potatoes...
...and the same content, plopped into my trusty pink pan, log-style. Not its most attractive shot for sure!
(And FYI, since I know what you're thinking: no, my pan is not rusted. It lost part of its non-stick lining over time, but I still use it as it's a very convenient size for my needs - plus it was a present from my brother, and the lid's got a piggy snout on it. Which ends the whole argument as far as I'm concerned.)
Now seriously - it's not flaking nor affecting the way my food tastes, so don't worry, it won't kill me!
I had enough soup to fill two bowls, and the first one I ate plain as the label suggested, with just a drizzle of oil and a pinch of black pepper.
It tasted... good, I suppose, but really bland. I was a little disappointed, because I was expecting it to be a bit more interesting - then again, boiled potatoes (while hearty and delicious) are not exactly a powerhouse of flavour, and the clams themselves contribute more in the field of texture and chewiness than actual umami.
The consistency was delightful btw, not too brothy nor overly starchy, just like the ideal winter soup should be. And there is something deeply gratifying in finding huge chunks of actual vegetables and clams into a canned soup... that is to say, it makes me feel less lazy for resorting to it in the first place. Almost... virtuous, I daresay!
The second bowl, though, I muddled up with wasabi-flavoured furikake, plus a few taralli as impromptu croutons. American, Japanese and Italian ingredients in one bowl? Yes, please!
Needless to say, I liked this "bastardised" version much more. If you're shuddering at the thought, please feel free to blame it all on me being anosmic, and thus unable to fully appreciate subtlety in flavours...
Both bowls were good enough that I'd gladly pick up a can from time to time, were it available here; it's not worth ordering from abroad though - it's something I wouldn't mind eating a couple times during the cold season, but I don't foresee craving it as such.
I would however like to try cooking it from scratch. Great, one more recipe just got filed in my "To Do" folder...