It used to be that I thought I didn't like any chowder. And it's true that the lower calorie versions are often insipid and bland. But then I had a beautiful potato chowder with bacon that changed my mind. So only clam chowder remains.
My husband, on the other hand, loves clam chowder. It would make him very happy if I could learn to love the stuff. He keeps cans of it in the pantry and takes it to work for lunch. He stocks up on it when it's cheap. And even when we're trying to cut back our calories, he goes for the lighter stuff. So today, when he came home for lunch, we split a can of "healthy" clam chowder.
Now, when I make "healthy" chowders at home, the soup base has a ghostly consistency, so that many might not think it resembled chowder at all. It's the cream that makes it thick and white, and the buttery roux in the base. Cut those back, and it's a much thinner soup. But, since canned soup companies probably use a lot of chemicals to make their light soup look heavier, this version was not quite so translucent. It was not the thick, stand-a-spoon-up-in-it chowder that some folks make, but it wasn't entirely wimpy.
Mostly, my clam chowder didn't taste any worse than it smelled. It was nice that the clams were mostly difficult to pick out, and the husband remarked how grateful he was that the soup didn't include any sand (apparently cheaper brands are not too fastidious about cleaning their mollusks). It wasn't until I bit into my first clam that I really knew they were there, and when I did, I couldn't help but grimace. It was chewy. That, I expected. It didn't taste fishy, really--it tasted like the sea. That's what it's supposed to taste like, right? But I'm still not entirely used to it. I did, however, manage to chew all of my clam bits but one--I got a particularly large chunk of clam in one bite and, as cowardly as it might be, I swallowed it like a pill.
But I ate clam chowder. I survived. And one day, I'll order it at a restaurant on the beach, and I'm sure I'll find it heavenly.