By: Katherine Ernst
The long, chilly winter months call for one thing and one thing only! Warm, hearty delicious soup! A hot bowl of creamy soup is the perfect meal after a long commute home, a chilly day shoveling snow or a fun day of sleigh riding. Mantoloking Chowda is the perfect option if you’re lucky enough to live at the Jersey Shore. My go to recipe combines fresh cherrystone and chowder clams from a local Mantoloking seafood market to give it a fresh Shore twist. The local ingredients and year round availability allow you to cook up a tasty pot any time of the year. The tender, fresh clams combined with basil, thyme and creamy goodness make this a grand slam the entire family will love!
Here’s what you’ll need:
2 ½ dozen large cherrystone or chowder clams
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3 bay leaves
½ teaspoon dried thyme
4 slices of bacon
1 medium onion
2 cups peeled white potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
Reserved clam broth
Salt, pepper & parsley to taste
Cheesecloth, strainer, large pot and medium bowl
Rinse clams with cold water and scrub with a vegetable brush to remove dirt and sand. Fill a large pot with cold water, clams, ¼ teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon cornstarch and let soak for 1 hour. This will remove any additional sand before cooking. Rinse clams under cold water and clean out the large pot.
- Add clams to large pot and fill with 1 ½ – 2 cups of water, 2 bay leaves and cover. Let steam on medium/high heat for approx. 20 minutes. As clams begin to open place them in a bowl for shucking. Once all clams are open, shuck and set aside to be chopped into ¼” pieces. (If a few clams do not open be sure to throw away)
(While clams are steaming, I recommend dicing the onion and peeling/cutting potatoes into bite size pieces)
- Strain the liquid left in the pot into a smaller bowl through cheesecloth. Set this “clam broth” aside. You will add this to the chowder recipe.
- Rinse the pot and place back on medium/high heat
- Cook bacon until crispy then break into small pieces
- Add butter, onions, bay leaf, thyme and a dash of pepper. Cook until onions are translucent
- Add the reserved clam both (approx. 2-2 ½ cups), potatoes, and milk. Bring to a boil (stirring frequently) then reduce to a simmer for 10-12 minutes.
(While simmering, I suggest you chop the clams into ¼” pieces)
- Once potatoes are tender (feel free to taste test) add the heavy cream and chopped clams
- Bring to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes
- Be sure not to overcook clams or they will be tough & chewy!
- 3 minutes max is usually more than enough time!
*I like to add a couple shakes of tobacco sauce, a dash of black pepper and fresh or dry parsley for a biting flavor pop at the end! Bon Appetit!
This scrumptious, local recipe is sure to warm your soul & fill your tummy! Dig In!