Matthew Jennings of Boston's Townsman makes sure his chowder is part clam, part corn and all New England. While there are a lot of moving parts to his soup, all of the steps can be done using one large pot. Jennings adds fish broth that he makes at his restaurant to the soup, but water works just fine.
To learn more, read "The Chowder House Rules."
Clam and Corn Chowder
Recipe adapted from Matthew Jennings, Townsman, Boston, MA
Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour and 25 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours and 5 minutes
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
½ cup dry white wine, divided
3 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed, divided
3 slices thick-cut bacon, finely chopped
1 large Spanish onion, thinly sliced
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
5 cups corn kernels (about 5 ears corn)
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup water
1 jalapeño, halved and seeded
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
3 thyme sprigs
1 rosemary sprig
1 bay leaf
1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon
1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add ¼ cup of the wine and, working in batches, steam 2 dozen of the clams. Cover and cook, shaking the pot frequently, until the clams have opened, 8 to 10 minutes. As the clams open, transfer them and their juices to a large bowl. Discard any clams that do not open. When the clams are cool enough to handle, remove them from their shells and coarsely chop the meat. Set aside. Pour the cooking liquid from the pot through a fine strainer into another bowl (you should have about 2 cups; add water if needed). Set aside.
2. Wipe the pot clean, add the bacon and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the fat begins to render and the bacon is crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. If the pan looks dry, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onions, shallots and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until soft and brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the remaining ¼ cup of wine and reduce the heat; cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the corn and cook for another 6 to 8 minutes. Add the cream, water, jalapeño, cayenne, sugar and reserved clam liquid.
3. Using kitchen twine, tie the thyme, rosemary and bay leaf together to make an herb bundle then add it to the soup. Cook over medium heat until the cream has reduced by a third, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard the jalapeños and herb bundle.
4. Using a blender or a hand blender, purée the soup until smooth. Return to low heat, add the potatoes and cook until almost tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the clam meat and remaining dozen clams in their shells.
5. Cover and cook until the clam shells pop open, 8 to 10 minutes. Once the shells are open, taste and adjust the seasoning.
6. Ladle the chowder among bowls and garnish with the parsley, chives, tarrago, reserved bacon and drizzle of olive oil before serving.
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