~ Clam Chowder with Root Vegetables and Thyme ~
I happened to have some left over clams this week. While you scratch your heads and think, who and why would anyone have left over clams, – I’ll just say that they were the delicious vestiges of the next round of the Lambs and Clams Contest, sponsored by the Charleston Food and Wine Festival. For more details on that, you will have to tune in next week for my official post and submission. Until then, let’s talk leftovers. More specifically, let’s talk chowder.
I don’t know about you but when the weather chills down, I can’t think of anything more comforting than a bowl of piping hot, creamy chowder – blame it on my New England roots. So, this week, as the temperatures dropped and we had a deluge of rain, I found myself in the possession of some lovely clams, and I made this chowder. Use the smallest clams you can get your hands on, such as little necks, middle necks, or, if you are on the U.S. west coast, manila clams. Typically, onions and potatoes accompany clams in a chowder. In this soup, I’ve also added leeks, celery root and turnips, which add flavor to the creamy broth, while maintaining a nice white color theme.
Serves 4 to 6
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 slices bacon, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 large leek, white part only, thinly sliced
2 large black radishes or 1 medium white turnip, peeled, cut in 1/2-inch dice
1/2 small celery root, peeled, cut in 1/2-inch dice
1/2 pound small fingerling potatoes, cut in 1/4-inch coins
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh thyme
12 manila or middle neck clams or 24 little neck clams
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add bacon and fry until fat is nearly rendered (it will continue to render as the vegetables cook). Add onion and leek and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add turnip, celery root and potatoes. Sauté until vegetables soften, about 3 minutes. Add milk, cream, stock, bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a boil. Add clams. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until clams open, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard any unopened clam shells. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot garnished with fresh thyme sprigs.