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Manhattan Clam Chowder

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Seafood soups don’t need a slow cooker. Fish falls apart and shellfish gets rubbery when cooked all day, and seafood broth really doesn’t need hours of cooking to reach perfection. And yet, the notion of 20 minutes of prep in the morning yielding an impressive, home-cooked indulgence at the end of the day, when it’s most appreciated, is practically irresistible. In this recipe, fresh clams are steamed open in a mixture of wine and water and then reserved. The clam cooking liquid becomes the broth for the soup, eliminating the need for expensive and overly salty bottled clam juice. Because the clams are precooked, they only need to be warmed in the broth just before serving.

NotesWhat else?

• You can use canned clams, if you can’t find fresh, but then replace the clam cooking liquid with bottled clam juice.

• If you can’t find littleneck clams, any variety will do. Large clams, like cherrystones or sea clams, will need a longer initial cooking time to open.

• This soup is equally good made with mussels instead of clams. If using mussels, double the amount and precook them for about half the time.

Precook: 15 minutes

Slow Cook: 4 to 6 hours on high, or 8 to 10 hours on low, in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker

6 servings

Cooking Methodslow cooking

CostModerate

Total Timehalf-day

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Courseappetizer, main course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Equipmentcrock pot

Mealdinner

Taste and Textureherby, meaty, salty, savory

Type of Dishchowder, fish soup, soup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 dozen littleneck clams, cleaned (clams should be tightly closed)
  • 3 strips bacon, cut into ¼-inch dice
  • 2 medium onions, cut into ¼-inch dice
  • 2 celery ribs, cut into ¼-inch slices
  • ½ green bell pepper, cut into ¼-inch dice
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can (about 28 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup vegetable juice, such as V8
  • 2 small red-skin or golden potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

Instructions

  1. Bring the wine and water to a boil over high heat in a large deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid. Add the clams, cover, and boil until the clams open, 4 to 8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the clams to a bowl as soon as they open and set aside. (Discard any unopened clams.) Strain the cooking liquid through a damp coffee filter or several layers of damp cheesecloth to remove grit, and reserve. You should have about 3 cups: add water if you have less.

  2. Wipe out the skillet and cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Add the onions, celery, and bell pepper and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the oregano, basil, salt, and pepper and sauté for 1 minute, stirring often. Transfer to a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Add the bay leaf, tomatoes, vegetable juice, potatoes, and the reserved clam cooking liquid, cover the cooker, and cook for 4 to 6 hours on high, or 8 to 10 hours on low.

  3. While the soup is cooking, remove the clams from their shells; chop coarsely if large. Mix with any juice that drips from the shells. Refrigerate until the soup is done cooking.

  4. When the soup is done, remove the bay leaf and stir in the parsley and the clams with their juice.

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