This recipe is so beautifully different from the classic roux thickened chowder. The fresh clams, in their shells, are steamed in white wine, butter and garlic and the soup is made from the succulent cooking liquid. Peak of the season sweet corn adds a tender bite, and also helps thicken the soup to a silky consistency. The clams are arranged, still in their shells, in shallow bowls and the soup poured over. Simple and oh so lovely!
4 ears of fresh organic sweet corn, shucked and silks removed
2 pounds small manila clams
1 1/2 cups good quality dry white wine
4 tablespoon butter, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon each chopped fresh thyme, sage and rosemary
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Hot sauce to taste
(Optional: 8-10 ounces jarred clam juice)
Cubes of toasted bread, toasted baguette slices or croutons
Fresh parsley for garnish
Cut the kernels from the ears of corn (don’t cut too deeply) and then, with the back of your knife, scrape down the ears to collect all the juice and flesh left on the cob. Place the kernels and all of their juice in a bowl and set aside.
Scrub the clams well. Combine the wine, 2 tablespoons butter and the garlic in a large pot with a lid and bring to a boil. Add the clams, cover the pot and cook until the clams pop open, about 5 minutes. Discard any clams that do not open. Pour the clam cooking liquid into a bowl and let it sit until any sediment from the clams settles to the bottom of the bowl. Keep the clams warm and moist in the pot with the lid on.
In a soup pot or wide sauce pan, melt the remaining butter over medium heat and sauté the shallots and the herbs for 4-5 minutes until the shallots are very tender. Carefully pour the cooking liquid from the clams into the pot with the shallots, leaving behind any sand or sediment. Add the corn and the cream and simmer gently for about 3-4 minutes. The juices form the corn will lightly thicken the soup. Season with salt, pepper and hot sauce. If you would like a little juicer chowder, add 8-10 ounces of clam juice from a jar.
Divide the clams, still in their shells, between 4-6 wide soup bowls and add 3 or 4 croutons to each. Spoon the corn chowder over and around the clams. Garnish with fresh parsley, (chopped or sprigs).