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Thursday, June 27, 2013

B.C. Ferries' World's Best Clam Chowder Recipe: Contracted-out!

Submitted by Chris Green

I was shocked and appalled to discover recently that the "geniuses" who are running our quasi-privatized Ferry Corporation in British Columbia have discontinued serving the world's best clam chowder recipe, replacing it with yet more contracted-out White Spot garbage.

Since they don't want to serve it anymore, I am sharing the recipe here. BC Ferries had leaflets in the early 1990s ("A New Wave for BC Ferries") that gave the "secret" to its greatness away for free! It was presented with "Thanks to Quality Control Supervisor Stanley Wong".


5 1/2 oz. (160 grams) Ham or Salt Pork, chopped
26 oz. (743 grams) Potatoes, diced
12 oz. (335 grams) Carrots, diced
21 oz. (590 grams) Onions, diced
12 oz. (335 grams) Celery, diced
9 oz. (263 grams) Green Pepper, diced
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp. White Pepper
1/4 tsp. crushed Thyme
1 litre (1.2 quarts) Water
9 oz. (252 grams) Tomato Paste
23 oz. (650 grams) canned Whole Tomatoes (crushed)
2 oz. (57 grams) Chicken Base
3 cups canned Clam Nectar
3/4 cup Water
9 oz. (270 grams) Colflo* or Flour
2 drops Tabasco sauce
3 drops Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. Sugar
1 tsp. Salt
2 lbs. (900 grams) fresh Butter Clam Meat (chopped)
1 tsp. fresh Parsley (chopped)

Sauté ham, potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, and green pepper in a saucepan for 5 to 10 minutes. Add garlic powder, white pepper, thyme, 1 litre water, tomato paste, tomatoes, chicken base, and clam nectar. Cover and boil for 30 to 45 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Combine 3/4 cup water with flour and add to the soup. Add tabasco, worcestershire, sugar, salt, clam meat and parsley. Heat to serving temperature. Yields approximately 3 litres (3.6 quarts).

(I would imagine substituting chicken broth for the 1 litre of water and chicken base would be more than acceptable).

*Editor's Note: Colflo is an old-school (and that is not meant negatively) thickening ingredient that is purchased in bulk and used primarily by diners and cafeterias.

Chris Green is a 6th generation British Columbian, with deep family roots in labour and leftist politics in Nanaimo and Cowichan. He has shared food or booze at one time or another with Leaders of four different BC political parties, including four Premiers. He regrets to inform you that this includes his former SFU classmate, Christy Clark. He has volunteered or worked on NDP campaigns from the 1980s to the present day, but actually started out tagging along with his Grandma door-knocking for Tommy Douglas. He lives in Surrey, BC.

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  1. I have to agree with Chris, the supposedly "Clam Chowder" that B.C. Ferries serves now is pure crap! I drove cross water service with Pacific Stage Lines in the good old days when the ferries actually served food, and the chowder was great! Not only is the recipe a watered down version of the original, but the servings are miniscule to say the least, and the quality isn't even close to the old days. I usually buy a sub or other food before I board the ferry rather than eat their garbage.

  2. I loved that clam chowder but I remember it being white and creamy. This recipe has tomato paste and chopped tomatoes in it.

  3. My husband and I absolutely loved B.C. Ferries new England clam chowder, and after being away from Vancouver island for twenty-eight years, we were so looking forward to having another taste. But when I asked what kind it was, I was told it was Manhattan, so we never even tried it, didn't even think that they would change such a wonderful recipe till I read this blog. Would you have the new England recipe that they made, probably in the late eighties, that I remember so well? It was WONDERFUL

  4. Sorry to have missed Reni and Marion's comments before now. There never was a New England style chowder on the ferries, as far as I know, unless they did it as an experiment. This is the one and true classic BC Ferries clam chowder.

    1. I remember the New England clam chowder not tomato based one. Had the New England one a few times so sure it wasn't just an experiment. Thanks anyways.

    2. We lived here 1974-76 and tgere were never any tomatoes in the fantastic chowder then.