New England Clam Chowder

Since this is a classic New England dish, we're going to use popular ingredients like potatoes and little neck clams. But I'm also going to add leeks, which I think are an under-utilized, softer member of the onion family, along with dashi, which is a light, fragrant and earthy stock from Japan. This creates some lighter flavors in a traditionally thick dish. (Note: Dashi recipe included below step 1.)
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 30 min
  • Active: 45 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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Ingredients

25 littleneck clams, rinsed

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

3 shallots, divided

2 cloves garlic, divided

1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, including stems

1 cup white wine

4 fingerling potatoes

1 leek, white and light green parts only

1 rib celery

1 bulb fennel

1 medium yellow onion

1 slice jalapeño

1/4 lemon, peel and juice

12 Ruby Red shrimp, peeled and deveined

4 cups dashi, may substitute store-bought

1 cup heavy cream

1 pinch Aleppo pepper, may substitute crushed red pepper flakes

kosher salt

ground white pepper

Dashi

2 quarts cold water, divided

1 piece kombu, 4 inches long

1/2 cup bonito flakes

Directions

  1. Rinse and soak clams in cold water to remove any grit, 5 minutes. Heat a heavy-bottomed saucepan with a lid over medium-low heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Peel and chop 2 shallots and 1 garlic clove and add to the pot, along with a few parsley stems. Cook about 2 minutes to "sweat" the vegetables. Drain clams and add to pot, along with white wine. Cover and cook over high heat until clams are opened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add potatoes to a medium saucepan and cover with water; add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and cook the potatoes until tender, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, check the clams: put the opened ones in a bowl, then "agitate" the pot by moving it back and forth over the heat to coax the remaining ones to open. Once the clams are open and out of the pot, continue cooking to reduce the liquid to about 1 cup. (Watch for sand that may have accumulated at the bottom of the pot.) Discard any clams that haven't opened.
  3. Dice the leek and toss in a bowl of water to remove any sand. Dice celery and fennel (reserving the fronds). Peel and mince 1 garlic clove, 1 shallot, and the onion. Remove cooked potatoes to a bowl to cool.
  4. Preheat soup pot over medium heat. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the pot. While the pot is heating, remove the leeks from the water to a clean bowl. Then add onions, fennel, celery, and a pinch of salt to the pot followed by the leeks, a sprig of parsley and some fennel fronds. Gently stir and cook until vegetables are soft, 5 minutes. Add the shellfish cooking liquid. Add the jalapeño slice and a lemon peel to the soup. Bring to a simmer and cook, 10 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the clams from their shells and roughly chop. Cut the potatoes to roughly the same size as the clams; cut the shrimp in half or thirds, depending on size. Add dashi to the soup, followed by the cream. Taste to adjust the seasonings, and add salt and pepper if necessary. Add a pinch of Aleppo pepper and the shrimp; bring the soup back to a simmer. Add the potatoes and clams, then cover until heated through.
  5. Finish soup with a squeeze of lemon and chopped parsley. Ladle into bowls and serve.

Dashi

Yield: about 1 quart
  1. Place kombu in 1 quart cold water to soak, 30 minutes. Then discard soaking water, place kombu in a small saucepan, and cover with 1 quart fresh cold water. Over medium-low heat, bring to a simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let kombu steep, 30 minutes. Turn heat back on and bring to almost a simmer. Add bonito flakes, but don't stir. Let sit for 10 minutes, then strain, reserving the broth (dashi).