Friday, January 23, 2015

Family Recipe Friday (January 23, 2015) -- Clear "Rhode Island Clam Chowder"

[Like her husband (our older son, Jonathan), our daughter-in-law, Pamela Booth Winkler Tew, has family roots in Rhode Island. When Pam told me not long ago about the clambake club her extended family ran for decades in Newport -- and the wonderful clam chowder that they produced there -- I immediately thought a Family Recipe Friday guest post by Pam was needed in order to capture her memories and to preserve the recipe.  I am delighted that Pam agreed to do a post about her family food memories and that she could share the family clam chowder recipe that is so cherished. I think readers will be delighted too if they are fans of the clam chowders of New England and clear Rhode Island clam chowder in particular.  Thank you Pam!]

When I think about my family history and what kinds of things have been passed down through generations, all of my memories, along with the stories I’ve heard, are centered around food.  

My father was born in Newport, Rhode Island, where his mother, Elsie H. [Booth] Winkler (1919 - 2002), my maternal grandmother, was raised.  Most years we gather in Newport for a Booth family reunion with as many of the descendants of my grandmother and her four brothers as are able to attend.  

Some of my fondest childhood memories happened at these Booth family reunions, not the least of which was indulging in the amazing seafood sensations of Kempenaar’s Clambake Club.  Kempenar’s was run for 20 years by the Booth Family - first by my Great Uncle Donald, and then by Cousin Jack.  The star of the show at Kempenar's was Kempenar’s Clambake Club Clam Chowder -- not creamy, not tomato based, just pure clam chowder -- the clams were the star of the show! 

Jonathan and I were lucky enough to have my father and my Uncle Richard (supervised by Newport native, Cousin Ed) make Kempenaar’s Clambake Club Clam Chowder for our wedding in July 2012.

For Christmas 2011, my father created a family recipe book and gave it to my siblings and me - it chronicles all of the recipes that warm my heart.  And at the center is the Kempenar’s Clambake Club Clam Chowder recipe.  I have to say, I thought this was a secret that was to never be revealed, but surprisingly (and thankfully) - he had it all along!!  And here it is . . . 

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Photograph of example of a Rhode Island clear clam chowder from

Photograph of Kempenaar’s Clambake Club photographer and date unknown.

Recipe courtesy of the Booth family and Jim Winkler's recipe book gift to his daughter Pam.

N.B.  “It must be noted that while Kempenaar’s Clambake Club Clam Chowder was a definite hit at Jonathan and Pamela’s wedding, the stars of the show on that occasion were the lovely bride and her groom!”  John D. Tew
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Copyright 2015, Pamela Booth Winkler Tew
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  1. Wow, this looks delicious. Thanks for inviting Pam to share it, John.

  2. This was actually my first job! I worked with Your Uncle Donald, Jack, and Allison, my brother Billy worked there also. I loved this job and will always remember picking the flowers in the hot sun for hours, it shaped my work ethics and I always wanted Jack to be happy with my work. When everyone started showing up for the clambake everything happened so smoothly, and it was FUN!!! This is such a wonderful memory. Thank you.