To me, chowder is best in the chilly weather. There is something less appealing about hot creamy soup in the heat of summer. This succotash chowder was created years ago for my cookbook “Vineyard Harvest,” which came out in 2005. This light, brothy, flourless chowder is fresh and delicate. Also, it is great for winter when your pantry is your friend and using frozen vegetables is a fine thing to do. There seems to be a lot of steps, yes, but it is still quite simple and the method is easy.
Like any good soup, stew, or chowder, I feel this chowder tastes best after curing overnight, letting the flavors come together. There is no flour for thickener, which also stabilizes the cream, so be careful heating the cream so it does not curdle. This means after curing, the chowder is best cooked and served, and not left on heavy heat for a long period of time.
Succotash Chowder with Littleneck Clams
5 strips bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces 1 medium yellow onion, diced 1 medium shallot, minced 2 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped 3 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped 2 cups clam broth 3 cups heavy cream ½ cup dry white wine 7 lbs. littleneck clams, scrubbed 1 Tbsp. olive oil ½ cup corn (frozen is fine) ½ cup red pepper, diced small ½ cup lima beans, blanched (frozen is fine) ½ tsp. black pepper
In a heavy 6-quart saucepan, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove the bacon, leaving the fat in the pan. Set bacon aside. Lower the heat, and add onions and shallots, sautee gently careful not to brown. Stir in chopped thyme and parsley, combine, add clam stock, turn up the heat, and gently boil for a few minutes.
Reduce the heat and add the cream, simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
In another heavy saucepan, add white wine, add littleneck clams, setting 24 clams aside. Cover and steam until the clams just open. Remove clams from the pot, removing any that do not open at all. Let clams cool enough to handle. Remove cooked clams from the shell. Coarsely chop cooked clams.
Heat olive oil in a saute pan. Add corn, peppers, and lima beans. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes. Remove from heat.
To assemble the chowder, add chopped clams, succotash mixture, and crispy bacon to the cream base. Chowder is always best the next day, so I suggest refrigerating overnight.
When ready to serve, heat the chowder mixture gently, add 24 unopened live clams, and heat until the littlenecks have opened.