MINCED CLAM & PASTA SOUP

My friend, Karen, is my inspiration here.  She is gently finding a path through how best to help her mother move through the aging process.  These days, that involves soup.  Lots of soups.  It struck a chord because of one of my father’s favorite dinners that I would make for him.  Aside from the fact that it really is a wonderful pasta dish, it held such a long-standing familiarity for him that I suspect it anchored him to times past that were good.

Karen explains that soups are easy for her mother to eat.  And we all know of their universal comfort.  The evenings over which this long-distance typed conversation continued planted a thought:  what if I took a favorite pasta sauce and turned in into a soup?  Karen and her mother live on the half of the globe that is moving into fall and winter.  It isn’t winter here, though you’d never know it by the weather.  Memorial Day Weekend can be fickle.  I’m considering taking it personally.  Wherever I’ve lived over the past many years, it can be hot as summer or cold as October.  This one is looking more like November.  In the space of about an hour yesterday morning, the temperature dropped from 45 to 36 degrees.  Rain hammered down all day, and the wind was just plain insulting.  The dogs woke me up to go outside in the wee hours of the morning, and kleenex-size flakes of snow were blanketing everything.  Today promises to be just as wet.  It all adds up to a soup and sweatpants sort of day.

MINCED CLAM & PASTA SOUP

Serves 2

Olive oil

3 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, minced

1 can minced clams (6.5 ounces)

1 bottle clam sauce (8 ounces)

16 ounces chicken stock (your own or a good organic one)

1/2 package linguine or thin spaghetti broken into 2″ pieces

Generous handful of Italian parsley, chopped

Sea or kosher salt and grinds of pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese

1 good baguette

  1. Have all of your containers open.  Things happen quickly.
  2. Film a saucepan with olive oil and warm it over medium heat.  When hot, the oil will shimmer, or form ribbons; add the garlic.  Sauté until very fragrant, but do not let it brown.  As soon as you get that heavenly, deep aroma of cooking garlic, add the bottle of clam juice to cool the pot.  Also use the lid of the can of clams to strain of their juice, and add the chicken stock.  Bring to a simmer.  Cover the pot about 3/4 of the way so that the liquids can concentrate a bit.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Set a timer.
  3. When the timer goes off, add the broken pieces of pasta.  Set a timer for 2 minutes less than the suggested cook time on the package.  When the timer goes off, add the parsley and clams.  Cook just until the clams are heated through; if cooked any longer, they’ll be like eating little pencil erasers.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Ladle into bowls.  Top with as much Parmesan cheese as you like.  Serve with chunks of  baguette and a good book.
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About thesolitarycook

I'm a chef, a cook, a teacher, a reader, a writer, a bike-rider, a dog- and cat-woman
This entry was posted in Entrées, Pastas, RECIPES, Soups, STORIES and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to MINCED CLAM & PASTA SOUP

  1. Lovely post and a comforting soup. I love that you turned a pasta dish into a soup. Karen’s Mom will love it I’m sure.

  2. Karen Rush says:

    It is 5:36am here in Canberra, Australia. Rain has been falling for some days. It is very cold outside. Although winter begins officially in 5 days time, in truth the central heating has been pounding away for at least 7 weeks. I am seriously wondering whether we wasteful, careless humans have really screwed our planet’s weather irredeemably. So I have been making soups solidly for months. I generally have home-made soup every day as my lunch. Mum’s freezer is full of them – she has one for dinner each night (easy to microwave and to digest even though they are packed with goodness she would never suspect).

    You’re clam soup has inspired me to have it for dinner. Although it is Sunday, I have to open a couple of houses (realtors work 7 days alas) today so when I finish I will head out to the local markets where there is a reliable fishmonger who regularly has fresh clams. We don’t have clams in cans here in supermarkets. Clams don’t feature much in our cuisine. My love affair began in Annapolis in January 1978 when I stumbled into a large, noisy restaurant which specialized in Boston clam chowder. That first mouthful hooked me forever. For the next 4 years of living in Washington DC we spent a great deal of time along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay exploring, admiring and yes searching for another great Boston clam chowder. Tonight I will cook your Minced Clam Pasta Soup and sip it with relish. Thank you Cynthia for your gift.

    I am planning to visit the US in January after spending Christmas with my daughter in Geneva. I look forward to clam soups, finding the best crab cakes and connecting with dear friends. Somehow hauling myself out in the cold to go to work doesn’t seem so bad when there is so much to look forward to.

    • Words fail me when I try to find any to tell you how I envy your ready access to fresh fish in general, and fresh clams in particular! Where all will you be in the US? It sounds like you have a wonderful trip planned. I’ve never been to Geneva – one of those classic cities I’ve always wanted to visit. I wasn’t expecting soup weather right now, as you are, but it was the perfect thing for today. I have lots of other cooking and baking to do over the weekend, and plans for Monday, when it looks like it might not rain all day. Are you making the ciabatta? You’ll love it! And I would love to know how it turns out for you.

      • Karen says:

        “Ready access to fresh fish” is stretching it when one thinks of access in San Francisco to ALL things truly fresh and quality as we are an inland city, 3 hours drive from the famous fish markets. Our fishmongers bring fish down by truck overnight three times a week. I have noticed clams lately so I’ll head off and see what I can find. On reflection I could probably access clams in tins and clam juice from the PX at the US Embassy as I have friends who work there. That’s certainly worth pursuing as a one off although I wouldn’t like to ask regularly. My schedule in the US in January is quite fluid at this stage. I suppose it is a bit early to plan where you might be as well. I would like to meet you if you think it is possible. I am making the ciabatta this evening. You’ve set me on a path of baking. Who would have thought!

      • Always glad to have company in the baking kitchen! Let me know as your plans firm up. There is a good chance I could get to NY, as there are some food52ers I’d love to meet as well.

  3. Pat says:

    I don’t believe this! I have actually made this soup ( at least very similar ) numerous times, mainly for myself during the winter. So sorry Memorial Day will be cold for you…our BBQ tomorrow may have to be inside because of the HEAT (expecting 90 plus temps). But great comfort in having son Matt here from San Francisco and the twins and the 5 little ones will be here too. And from what I’m reading, your friend Karen will just love this soup! CLAMS RULE!!

    • Poor darling, their grocery stores don’t carry canned clams, so she’ll just have to make do with fresh! I’m glad to have such illustrious company with this soup. Enjoy your lovely family, and have a wonderful weekend.

  4. Karen says:

    I meant the famous fish markets in Sydney. Oops got to remember to proof before sending. I noticed in the original reply I said “you’re” instead of “your”. For a pedant that is a cardinal sin! Sorry.

  5. Karen says:

    That could work really well. New York I so want to go back to. Let’s keep talking through the months about that.

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