Secret Ingredient Clam Chowder

Clam and Tripe Chowder

Clam and Tripe Chowder

There is an ingredient in my clam chowder that I think will surprise you. It is in there because of my Uncle John. He was my Mother’s older brother and a real smart guy. One day he and my Mom were talking about clam chowder. My Mom had made a big pot of it. She was on a tight budget and was saying that she wished she could afford to put in a lot more clams. She didn’t use canned clams- she bought fresh ones and they cost a lot of money. She also made a really good clam chowder. My uncle wondered if she could add tripe to her chowder. He said that the texture was sort of like clams. Tripe didn’t have a strong flavor on its own and surely it would absorb the flavor of the clams. He said he thought they could put them in and no one would ever know. My mother thought about it and agreed, but said the tripe, normally cut in strips, would not look like clams. She then figured out that if she put the tripe through her meat grinder on coarse the tripe would look a lot more like clams and might just work. She was pretty smart, too. So the plan was hatched. The next time my Mom made clam chowder she got tripe, ground it and cooked it until tender. She then added it to her clam chowder and invited family over to try it. Everybody loved the chowder and a couple of people even commented on how many clams were in it. So there it is – the story of why I put tripe in my clam chowder. Unlike my Mother I use canned clams. And unlike her and my uncle, I do tell people what is in it, before they eat it.


Clam and Tripe Chowder

1 lb. tripe


2 large onions, chopped

8 cups water or stock

2-3 cans clams, undrained

2-3 c. peeled and cubed potatoes – about 3-4 potatoes

1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk- or 1 1/2 cups half and half or heavy cream

2 T. flour, optional

1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley

salt, pepper and hot pepper sauce to taste

When I bought the tripe at the store the package said it had been scalded. Not sure that matters but I figured I’d mention it. I took the tripe and ground it in my meat grinder. If you don’t have a meat grinder, you can cut the tripe up a bit and chop it up in a food processor. Pulse on and off until it is chopped up to the size you want. In soup pot heat the oil and cook the onion until tender. Add the tripe and the water or stock. Simmer, covered, until the tripe is tender, about 90 minutes. Some of the water cooked off, but that was fine with me. Add the clams and their liquid, season to taste and allow to simmer another 30 minutes or so. Add the potatoes and cook, covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. At this point you can add just the milk or you can add the milk and the flour- depending on how thick you like your chowder. If you are thickening it- place some of the milk in a jar with a tight fitting lid along with the flour. Put the lid on and shake well until flour is mixed into the milk and there are no lumps. Add to the chowder with the rest of the milk and the parsley. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook about 5-10 minutes longer. Stir from time to time so the chowder won’t burn. Adjust seasonings and serve. Serves 6-8.

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