Saffron Clam and Corn Chowder
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    Serves 4
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There is nothing traditional about this recipe. The presentation is refined making it an ideal dish to prepare for a special dinner party. I love the textures the crispness of the saute potatoes, the soft plump flesh of the clams and the velvety smooth richness of the soup. of Saffron Clam and Corn Chowder

Ingredients & Method

For the Steamed Clams

  • 750g fresh small clams cleaned and beards removed (discard any which do not close when tapped)
  • 1 banana shallot, finely sliced
  • 1tbs olive oil
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • 200ml vegetable or fish stock
  • ½ clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 large sprig of thyme

For the Roasted Corn Cream

  • 2 corn cobs
  • 1tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 200ml clam stock
  • 50ml double cream

Clam and Corn Soup

  • 300g frozen sweet corn kernels, defrosted
  • 500g fish stock or left over clam stock
  • 50g double cream
  • 100g smoked bacon trimmings, chopped
  • Small pinch of saffron
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 banana shallot, finely sliced
  • 1tbs unsalted butter
  • Salt and pepper

To Serve

  • 200g very finely sliced leeks
  • 1tbs olive oil
  • 1tsp chopped chervil and chives
  • Small sprigs of chervil and pea shoots
  • 6 medium new potatoes, boiled with skins on
  • 1tbs unsalted butter salt and pepper

First prepare the steam clams. Heat a large pan until hot and add the olive oil, sliced shallots, garlic and thyme. Saute for 4 minutes over a medium heat, stirring frequently. In a separate small saucepan bring the stock to the boil. Turn the heat up, add the clams and pour the wine and hot stock over the clams, cover with a lid. Cook for 2 -3 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time, until the clams have opened. Discard any clams which remain closed. Place a colander over a large bowl; empty the clams and liquid into the colander. Pour the stock through a fine sieve and set aside.

Pick the clam meat from the shells, discard the shells and shallots. Cool the picked clams over ice and keep refrigerated until needed.

Next prepare the roasted corn cream, preheat the oven to 180°C. Rub the corn on the cob with the olive oil and seasoning. Place the corn on a baking tray and roast for 20 minutes until the kernels are tender. Remove the kernels with a sharp serrated knife. Puree the corn kernels with the stock until smooth and creamy. Adjust the seasoning if needed.

For the soup,  bring the stock in a medium saucepan to a gentle simmer with the saffron, let the stock infuse. While the stock is infusing heat a medium saucepan with the butter over medium heat. Once the butter is melted add the finely sliced shallot, chopped smoked bacon, seasoning and the bay leaf. Sweat the shallot and bacon until tender and it starts to brown. Add the defrosted sweet corn kernels and cook for 3 minutes. Stir frequently. Deglaze the pan with the wine and cook for 3 minutes. Add the stock cover the saucepan with a lid and bring the soup to the simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add the cream, stir and remove the bay leaf. Blend the soup until very smooth, I use a thermomix for this stage, as I like a very smooth and velvety soup. Pass the soup through a fine sieve, if the soup is too thick at this stage add a bit more cream or stock.

To serve, slice the boiled new potatoes in 5mm thick slices to make at least 20 slices of potatoes. Heat a frying pan with the butter and sauté the potatoes until golden brown and crispy on both sides, drain them on kitchen paper. Heat a small saucepan with the olive oil and sweat the finely sliced leeks until tender but no colour. Add the chilled clams and heat until the clams are warm all the way through. Stir in the 1tsp chopped chervil and chives. Warm 4 serving bowls. Heat the roasted corn cream and bring the soup to the boil. Spoon 5 teaspoons of roasted corn cream on each plate, top with the crispy sautéed potatoes and spoon teaspoons full of clams on top of each potato. Divide the clams between the four plates.

Use a stick blender to aerate the soup until frothy, pour the frothy soup around the potato and clam towers. Garnish each with small sprigs of pea shoots and chervil.

Cooks Notes

For a special effect, serve the bowls with the potato and clam towers and pour the soup in small jugs and let the guest pour their own soup at the table.