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Steamer clam soup

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July 2, 2008

Serves 4

2 1/2pounds medium steamer clams
2cups water
1/2teaspoon vegetable oil
2ounces salt pork, coarsely chopped
1tablespoon butter
2stalks celery, finely chopped
1teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2cup heavy cream
6common crackers, split and toasted, or 16 oyster crackers
2tablespoons chopped chives
1. Rinse clams in several changes of cold water to remove the sand.

2. In a large pot, bring the water to a boil. Add the clams, cover, and steam for 8 to 9 minutes, stirring once gently, or until they are all open. Use a slotted spoon to remove the clams from the broth, discarding any that do not open; set aside.

3. Line a strainer with cheesecloth. Set it over a bowl; strain the broth.

4. Remove the clams from the shells. Peel away the skin on each clam. Cover and refrigerate.

5. In a flameproof casserole, heat the oil and render the salt pork over low heat, stirring often, for 4 minutes. Turn the heat to medium and cook, stirring, until the salt pork is crisp and golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to remove it from the skillet and transfer to paper towels.

6. Add the butter, celery, and thyme to the pan. Cook over low heat, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until the celery softens.

7. Add the cream and 3 1/2 cups of the clam broth (add water, if necessary, to make that amount). Heat, stirring, until you see bubbles at the edge of the pan. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes.

8. Add the clams, salt, and pepper. Serve garnished with crackers, crispy pork, and chives. Adapted from Victory restaurant

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