It was L's birthday recently and to celebrate we had a few people over for dinner. As part of our degustation-style dinner we served a delicious clam soup that we had cooked in a French cooking class we attended the week before. (Post coming soon!)
I loved the subtle flavour of he sea in this soup, topped with crispy bacon for some extra saltiness and a spicy note from the chilli oil. Clams or vongole aren't always easy to get, we got ours frozen from Son Seafood on Victoria Street in Richmond.
1kg baby clams in their shell, fresh or if frozen, thawed 4 sprigs dill half bunch fresh chervil 2 small zucchini 1 onion 2 medium potatoes 1 close garlic, chopped 4 slices bacon, pancetta or speck 1 tbsp butter 100ml cream salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne Optional: A few drops of chilli oil per person
Wash clams, being rough with them between your hands so they don't open - this is only to remove any excess sand. Place clams in a medium saucepan with 150ml water, cook over high heat until opened, then remove quickly with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Filter the juice/ water from the pot and reserve. When the clams have cooled, remove them from their shells, leaving two per person for decoration. Set aside. Chop the dill and the chervil. Dice the zucchini, onion and peeled potatoes.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter and sweat the diced onion and garlic. When the onion and garlic have softened, add half the chervil and dill, the potato, zucchini and the conserved water from the clams. Add an extra 600ml of water. Season lightly with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until vegetables are softened enough to mash.Add the clam meat that you picked out of the shells, keep the ones in their shell for later! Use a stick blender or transfer to a blender to blend. Adjust seasoning. Meanwhile, fry the bacon slices until crisp, drain on a paper towel. When the bacon has coled, crumble and set aside. Just before serving, add the cream to the blended soup, reheat and add remainder of the chervil and chopped dill. Ladle into bowls, top each with two clams in their shells, some crumbled bacon and drizzle with a little chilli oil.
How gorgeous is Di's kitchen?! I wish my coper pots were that shiny...