Corn and Clam Chowder With Zucchini and Herbs
Summer corn and clam chowder is like a clambake in a bowl, emphasizing the sweetness of each ingredient. To give the chowder a somewhat Italian slant and to magnify the corn flavor, a handful of polenta is used to thicken the broth slightly, as is the case with certain Tuscan vegetable soups. Steam your own clams, if possible, or buy chopped clams from the fishmonger.
- Serves: 6 persons
- 8pounds chowder clams in the shell, scrubbed, (about 30 pieces), or substitute 1 pound chopped fresh clams (about 3 cups)
- 2tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2cups diced onion
- 1cup diced celery
- Salt and pepper
- 2cloves garlic, minced
- Pinch of crushed red pepper
- 1teaspoon chopped thyme
- ½cup medium yellow polenta (not fine)
- 4cups water or chicken broth
- 4cups clam broth, more as necessary
- 3cups cubed potato, preferably yellow-fleshed, like Yukon Gold
- 3cups corn kernels, from about 4 ears
- 4cups cubed zucchini or other summer squash
- 2limes, halved
- 6to 8 tablespoons crème fraîche or sour cream
- 3tablespoons parsley
- 1tablespoon fresh oregano or marjoram
Step 1Set up a clam steamer, or put about 2 inches of water in a large pot with a lid, place over high heat and bring to a boil.
Step 2Steam open clams over high heat, covered. Large clams will take about 12 minutes. When cool, shuck the clams. Strain and reserve all clam broth, leaving any sand or grit in the bottom of the pot. Chop meat roughly and set aside. To save time, do this step in advance. (If using chopped clams, skip Step 1 and 2.)
Step 3Put olive oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and celery, season generously with salt and pepper and cook until softened, 5 to 8 minutes.
Step 4Add garlic, red pepper and thyme. Stir and let sizzle briefly, then add polenta and stir to coat. Gradually add the water, stirring constantly with a wire whisk as mixture begins to thicken, then add clam broth and bring to a boil. It should now look brothy and just barely thickened.
Step 5Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, until polenta grains have softened.
Step 6Add potatoes to pot and simmer until just done, 12 to 15 minutes. Taste soup and adjust seasoning. Add more clam broth, if necessary.
Step 7Add corn and zucchini and simmer 5 minutes until zucchini is tender. Add chopped clams and cook 2 minutes more.
Step 8To serve, ladle soup into individual bowls. Squeeze some lime juice into each portion and top with a dollop of crème fraîche. Sprinkle with parsley and oregano.