There are two things I love about winter, soup and fireplaces, but not in that particular order.
As much as I have fallen head over heals for this clam chowder recipe, nothing can replace the lust in my heart for my fireplace.
Once winter hits, the fire is on every evening. It is a big open fireplace and one of my major loves of our house. In fact during winter it turns me into a creature of the night, as I just don’t want to leave its side to go to bed.
Between that and Netflix, I am surprised that I sleep at all.
I am usually a very lazy soup maker. I make up a big pot of chicken stock (16L), which is then frozen in various quantities. This stock then becomes the base of many after work, easy to prepare soups.
There is nothing difficult about this clam chowder, it is just a little more time consuming than most of the other soups I make.
I should embellish on this. Normally my soup making entails softening some leek or onion in a pot with butter. Throwing in some chopped up potatoes (or other veg) and covering with my premade chicken stock. Once the vegies are cooked I then puree the lot with a stick blender, season, and then, soup’s done!
Actually when I rethink the difficulty level and time factor of this chowder, it isn’t difficult or too time consuming. Practically as easy as my normal soup methods. Just replace the pureeing time with the time it takes to steam the clams.
The taste? The speck adds a wonderful smoky richness to the clam chowder. It marries so well with the fresh “sea” flavours of the clam stock. Even though cream is added to this soup, it isn’t as heavy as some chowders I have eaten. It really is a lovely balance of flavours and textures.
Winter Warmer Recipe: Hearty Clam Chowder
- 1 kg clams in the shell
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 115 grams speck meat and fat finely diced
- 1 ½ brown onions medium, finely diced
- 1 ½ tablespoons plain flour
- 125 ml white wine dry
- 400 grams potato peeled and small diced
- 3 cups clam stock reserved from cooking clams
- 2 tablespoons thyme leaves fresh
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 300 ml pouring cream
- 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
I used clams that came in 500g packs, which have been cleaned, purged of dirt and are par cooked. There is no need to clean them, go straight to the steaming stage.
If you purchase your clams loose at the fishmonger you will need to rinse and scrub them to remove any dirt. Once this is done place the clams in a bowl of water for around an hour. This entices them to discard some of the grit from within their shells.
If using packaged clams (as mentioned above), place clams and any liquid from the packet into a medium/large pot that has a lid.
If using loose clams that you have cleaned, remove from the bowl and water, draining well. Place in a medium/large pot that has a lid.
Place enough water in the pot to come up the side by around 3cm. Place lid on the pot and bring water to the boil. Reduce heat to a rolling simmer and steam clams until they open, 5 – 10 minutes.
Important, reserve the cooking liquid from the clams. With a slotted spoon remove clams from the pot to a colander over the top of a bowl.
Strain your clam cooking liquid through a fine sieve into a bowl. Set your clam stock to the side.
When clams are cool enough to handle, remove them from their shells and discard shells. Then roughly chop up the clam meat. Any liquid that has drained off the clams into the bowl under the colander, pour through a fine sieve and add to the reserved clam stock.
Place speck and butter into a large heavy based pot. Cook over a low temperature until the speck fat has started to render. Add onions to the speck and continue to cook (stirring) until the onions are translucent and very soft. This will take 10 – 15 minutes.
Sprinkle flour over the onion and speck mixture in the pot and stir until well combined. Continue to cook for a minute or two, to cook the flour.
Slowly add white wine to the pot, stirring after each addition.
Add potatoes to the pot along with 3 cups of clam stock. If you don’t have 3 cups, make up the rest of the required liquid with water. You should have enough liquid in the pot that the potatoes are covered. Add thyme and pepper to the pot.
Cover the pot with a lid and cook on a simmer for 10 minutes. Remove lid and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through.
Add cream to the pot, bring to a simmer and cook for a further couple of minutes. Remove pot from the heat and stir through chopped clams and fresh parsley.
Serve immediately with crusty bread rolls.
Yes, any clam chowder leftovers will freeze. I ended up freezing a portion which I’m chowing down on as I type. It reheats perfectly; the potatoes do not turn to mush, which was a concern of mine. Just defrost and heat up in a pot.
As I can get very stuck in a soup rut, with my quickie after work wonders, would love to hear what your favourite soup flavours are. Any weird and whacky ones you enjoy, maybe flavour combos I should try?
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