The Umami-Rich Condiment That Will Save Bland Clam Chowder

Clam chowder is beloved for its meaty clams and creamy texture, and typically includes add-ins like vegetables, potatoes, and herbs.

In various parts of the United States, however, clam chowder takes on a different personality. Types of clam chowder include New England-style, Manhattan-style, a Rhode Island variation, and Florida's Minorcan clam chowder. There's also a Long Island clam chowder, which is a creamy and tomatoey blend that pays homage to both Manhattan and New England, according to Matador Network.

But whichever type of clam chowder you make at home, you might run into one of many potential problems. Some of them, according to New England Today, include an overly thick texture, overcooked potatoes and clams, or a far-too-salty mixture. And conversely, a bland clam chowder can happen to even the best home cooks. Sometimes, this can occur when the chowder sits in the fridge, as the texture and taste become watered-down, as mentioned by FoodsGuy. Or, when you're adding salt to the soup while the potatoes are cooking, the potatoes may absorb all that saltiness and leave the broth wanting more, explains DeadSpin

Fortunately, there are several solutions to reviving bland clam chowder, including an umami-rich one that's our personal favorite.

Just a little miso paste

Umami is a basic taste, and it's packed with glutamate (an amino acid) to make dishes taste better, via Miso Tasty. You'll find umami in a wide range of ingredients, like fish sauce, pickles, certain vegetables, and of course, miso, the latter of which is rich and complex in flavor.

Miso paste is generally used for miso soup, though Epicurious and Umi Organic mention that it can be used for chowder. Epicurious recommends 2 tablespoons of miso for 2 cups of low-salt chicken broth, while Umi Organic uses 4 tablespoons of miso with 4 cups of water (thus, it seems like a 1:1 ratio is acceptable for clam chowder, not including any milk or cream). They don't specify which type of miso to use, but it white miso is a great option as it is mild and sweet, shares Japanese Taste. Other types of miso paste include red miso (known for its strong flavor), soy miso (which is rich in umami), and rice miso (light as a feather when it comes to taste).

So next time you're faced with bland clam chowder, rather than reaching for seasonings or herbs, try incorporating some miso paste instead. Start with a small amount if you're feeling skeptical, then slowly add more as needed.