This recipe comes from our friend, chef, and partner in seaweed, Trevor Swope. Trevor is an incredibly talented chef, but also doing some great work to improve soil health for organic gardeners and farmers at The Montauk Seaweed Supply Co. Take it away, Trevor!
"This is a very basic chowder that allows for the kelp to shine through, as well as leaving room for many variations to suit a range of tastes. Bacon could be omitted and instead steeping and then straining out shaved bonito in the cream will give you a delicious pescatarian smokiness. If you’re avoiding dairy, sub the cream for fish stock and thicken the chowder with one to two cups of potato puree. Want more seafood? Don’t hesitate to include shrimp, mussels or fish, just cook the shellfish in advance, reserve and add their cooking liquid to the white wine and add the shellfish, raw fish or shrimp at the same time as the canned clams and heat just until cooked through so as to avoid over cooking.
Most of all, notice how easy it is for this chowder to go from a simple clam chowder to something quite different with the simple addition of prepared kelp and kelp puree. This recipe is a bit conservative on the kelp so feel free to experiment with adding more as you begin experimenting with kelp cookery. Keep in mind, this is a technique that can be applied to just about any soup!"
Begin by cooking the bacon in a two quart sauce pot or larger over medium-high heat until it starts to color and becomes crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the pot, leaving the rendered fat in the pot, and transfer to a small dish and set aside until later.
Return the pot to medium-high heat and add the sliced shallot and garlic clove and cook for two to three minutes, being sure not to color the shallot or garlic, decreasing heat if necessary. Add the white wine and clam juice to the pot as well as the thyme and bay leaf, turn the heat to high and reduce to about ½ - ¾ cup.
With a slotted spoon, remove the thyme and bay leaf and discard. Add the cream to the pot and bring to a simmer. Season with salt to taste, keeping in mind that the clams will add a bit more salt at the end. Add the diced onion and celery and cook for three minutes. Then add the diced potato and cook until tender, about two minutes. Next, add the chopped kelp and kelp puree and the reserved bacon, stir to combine and bring back to a simmer. Add the chopped clams along with their liquid, stir to combine and remove from the heat.
Season your chowder with lemon, salt and pepper to taste, as well as a dash of tabasco. Add the chopped parsley at the very end. Serve immediately, or keep in the fridge for up to four days, or freeze for up to a month.
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