Chowder is perhaps the most popular soup preparation for clams.
This incorporates some of the standard ingredients into a purée
using potato as a thickener. I use water instead of the traditional
fish stock, which allows the excess juice from the clams to provide
the shellfish flavor and the natural flavors of the vegetables to
come through. A dollop of sour cream adds finish to the flavor,
and a little chopped cooked bacon mixed with the croutons and thyme
makes a tasty garnish.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 cups ½-inch-cubed country bread
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
POTATO AND CLAM SOUP
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 white onions, chopped
- 2 leeks (white part only), washed and chopped
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped
- 3 ribs celery, chopped
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 2 cups Sauvignon Blanc wine
- 6 cups water
- 3 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
- 10 drops red pepper sauce
- 3 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Sour cream and minced fresh thyme for garnish
To make the croutons: Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large
skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the garlic
for 3 minutes, or until translucent; do not brown. Add the bread cubes,
tossing to coat. Place them on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt
and pepper. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
To make the soup: In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium
heat. Add the onions, leeks, fennel, celery, salt, and pepper. Cover,
reduce heat to low, and cook the vegetables for 20 minutes, stirring
frequently. Mix in the white wine, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
Stir in 5 cups of the water and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes,
thyme, and red pepper sauce; reduce heat to a simmer and cook for
20 minutes. Let cool slightly. Purée in a food processor
until smooth; set aside.
In a large skillet, combine the clams and the remaining 1 cup of
water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and steam for 3 to
4 minutes, or until the shells open. Discard any clams that do not
open after 8 minutes of cooking. Remove from heat and let the clams
cool in their shells. Take the clam meat out of the shells, allowing
the clam juice to drip back into the skillet. Strain the clam juice
and reserve it.
In a large pot, heat the vegetable purée. Stir in the reserved
clam juice, clams, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper
To serve, ladle the chowder into soup bowls. Garnish with the sour
cream, thyme, and garlic croutons.