18 top neck clams
1 pint clam juice
2 tablespoons butter
6 strips bacon, cut into small pieces
1 medium onion, cut into medium dice
2 stalks celery, cut into medium dice
1 medium carrot, cut into medium dice
1 sachet (2 cloves garlic, a handful of parsley stems, 1 bay leaf, and a pinch each of salt and white pepper)
1 large leek, cut into medium dice
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup flour
1 cup Artesa Chardonnay
3 medium red russet potatoes, cut into medium dice
1½ cups heavy cream
½ cup chives, dill and parsley, mixed
Juice of ½ lemon
Suggested Wine Pairing: Artesa Estate Reserve Chardonnay
This slightly smoky version is based on the traditional, but would make a New England purist very upset.
Scrub the clams thoroughly under cold running water and place in a large pot with 1 cup of boiling water. Cover the pot and steam the clams for about 5 minutes, or just until they begin to open. Strain the liquid into a separate bowl and reserve.
Remove the cooked meat from the clams and cut into medium chunks. Cover the cut clams with the pint of clam juice, and refrigerate.
Using the same pot that was used for the clams, over medium heat add the butter and bacon. Cook for 1 minute to melt the bacon fat. Add the onions, celery, carrots and sachet. Cover the pot and sweat the vegetables for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the leeks and sweat for 1 more minute. Season with salt and pepper.
Stir in the flour to coat the vegetables. Continue stirring for 2 minutes to cook the flour. DO NOT BROWN. Add the wine and simmer for 2 minutes. Carefully add the reserved clam liquid, making sure not to pour in any sand that may have settled on the bottom of the bowl. Add the potatoes, and let the chowder simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let the soup rest for half an hour. This allows the flavors to develop.
After the soup has rested, remove the sachet. When you are ready to serve the soup, return the pot to medium heat, add the cream, and bring to a simmer. Fold in the cut clams and mixed herbs. Season with a few squirts of lemon juice, and salt and pepper.