Friday, October 9, 2015


I live in the Pacific Northwest and Manilla clams are very common. They are the sweetest, small hard shell clams, and are favorites of professional chefs. I was lucky to find Komo Gway Clams produced by the K'ómoks First Nation. This recipe makes enough chowder for 4 cups or 2 large bowls.

5 dozen Manilla, Littleneck, or Butter clams
4 strips bacon or pancetta, diced                                      
2 T (30 ml) extra-light olive oil or grape seed oil
1 large yellow onion, diced                                        
3 stalks celery, cut into strips and finely diced                                        
2 medium carrots, cut into strips and minced
3 cloves garlic, minced                                                                                   
1 t (5 ml) freeze-dried or chopped fresh oregano 
1 t (5 ml) freeze-dried or chopped fresh basil
½ t (2 ml) red pepper flakes                                      
1 t (5 ml) dried or fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1 8-oz (250 ml) bottle clam juice
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes
1 28-oz (796 ml) can whole peeled Italian tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ cup (125 ml) water
1 cup dry (250 ml) white wine

¼ cup (60 ml) chopped Italian parsley

Scrub clams with a brush under cold running water.
Place them in a bowl of cold water and soak for 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a soup pot or Dutch oven, fry bacon until crisp.
Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside for garnish.
Pour out most of the bacon fat and discard.
Add the oil and sauté the onion, celery, and carrot for 10 minutes. 
Add the garlic and sauté another minute.
Stir in oregano, basil, pepper flakes, thyme, and bay leaves.
Add the clam juice and potatoes.

Pour the tomatoes into a bowl and hand-crush them, removing any hard center cores.
Alternatively, use an immersion blender to chop the tomatoes.  
Pour tomatoes into the pot and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

While soup is simmering, pour the water and wine in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Drain the clams and add to the saucepan.
Partially cover and let clams simmer for 5 minutes or until they open.
Remove clams with a slotted spoon to a bowl and pour liquid from saucepan through a fine mesh strainer into the pot with the soup.

Discard any unopened clams
Remove clams from their shells and coarsely chop.
Add the clams to the soup pot and simmer another 2 to 3 minutes, until hot.
Add parsley and ladle into warm soup bowls. 
Garnish with bacon and serve.

Serves 2 to 4

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