This soup is a pleasant reminder of the years when the family lived as expats in Princeton, N.J.
It was Labour weekend and we were heading home after a camping holiday among wild horses on a Maryland beach. It was quite late and the children were tired and grumpy. Well, we were all rather tired and grumpy, but most of all very hungry and in a desperate need of food. So we stopped at one of all these more or less shabby truckstop diners along U.S. Route 1.
The smell of French fries, burgers and fried eggs hit us like a wall when we entered the room. A bored looking waitress with quite an attitude told us that all that was left on the menu at this late hour were burgers and clam chowder. So burgers (for the kids) and soup it had to be.
And was that soup delicious? To put it mildly, yes, the very best I have ever tasted. Since then I have tried to copy it many times over the years and I think I have come pretty close.
What’s there to learn from this? Well, maybe never to judge a shabby truckstop diner before you have tasted its clam chowder!
U.S. Route 1 Clam chowder
1 kg fresh blue mussels
2 finely chopped shallots
2 cloves garlic, chopped
200 ml white wine
100 ml water
1/2 bunch chopped fresh thyme
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
2 cans of clams à 400 gram
100 grams of diced salted pork
2 coarsely chopped yellow onions
5-6 potatoes, diced
Olive oil for the frying pan
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1-2 tsp smoked paprika powder
1 gram saffron
Juice from the canned mussels + water = 500 ml
200 ml white wine
3-4 tbsp Touch of Taste fish bouillon or 2 fish stock cubes
300 ml cream
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 bunch fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped (save some for garnish)
salt and pepper
Oops, I did it again! Halfway through the cooking process, I realize that I have once again forgotten to photograph the various moments. But what the heck, everyone knows how chopped and fried onions and vegetables look like, and when it comes to pouring wine, water or cream there are so many much more elegant pouring shots than mine out there. Instead I hope the soup itself will tempt you.
Preparing the mussels
- Clean and rinse the mussels under cold, running water and remove the beards sticking out.
- Discard any broken shells or shells that do not close when tapped. Set aside the rest.
Cooking the soup
- Pour some olive oil in a large saucepan, add parsley, thyme, chopped pork, onions and potatoes, smoked paprika powder and saffron and fry for a couple of minutes.
- Add wine, water, lemon juice and juice from the canned mussels, the Touch of taste bouillon and bring to a boil.
- Let simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
Cooking the mussels
- Meanwhile fry shallots and garlic in a large pan, add parsley, thyme, wine and water, and bring to a boil.
- Add the mussels, cover with a lid and cook for 4-6 minutes while shaking the pan occasionally. The mussels are ready when the shells open.
- Discard any mussel that hasn’t open.
- Reserve and set aside three mussels in their shells / person for garnish. Remove the remainder from the shells and lift into a bowl and keep warm.
- Add strained broth and cream to the soup and bring to a boil. Let simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Check and adjust the seasoning.
- If you find the soup too thin, a small amount of corn starch slurry may be added.
- Add canned and fresh mussels to the soup and heat gently for another minute. Don’t boil!
- Ladle the soup into warm soup plates and garnish with the reserved mussels in shells and finely cut parsley. Serve with garlic bread.