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Video: Chow-down! Chefs compete in chowder cook-off

TODAY recipes
updated 10/1/2012 2:12:45 PM ET 2012-10-01T18:12:45

Recipe: Clam and onion chowder

  • 2 cups low-salt clam juice or vegetable broth
  • 20 clams in the shell, washed
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 bouquet garni: 1 bay leaf, 1 spring thyme, 1 sprig parsley
  • Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded, diced
  • 1 tablespoon black truffle oil
  • 4 small chervil sprigs or chopped chives (optional)

In a sauce pot, bring the clam juice to a boil. Add the fresh clams. Cover up and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the clams open up. Remove the clams, set them aside and cover them up with plastic film wrap.

Melt the butter in a large, heavy sauté pan over low heat. Add the onions and garlic, stir well, cover, and cook about 10 minutes to allow the onions to soften. Uncover, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are very soft but not browned, about 20 minutes.

Pour the clam juice slowly into the pan, add the bouquet garni, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, 20 minutes. The liquid will begin to reduce and the chowder thickens. Add the cream and continue to cook very slowly to meld the flavors, another 10 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Transfer the chowder to a blender, add the truffle oil, and blend until very smooth. Pour the chowder through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean saucepan and reheat gently over low heat. The chowder should be fairly thick but still easily pourable. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Display 5 clams in the half shell per warm soup plate. Divide and sprinkle the diced tomatoes among the plates. Ladle the chowder over the clams. Add a small chervil sprig or chives, and serve immediately.

Option: Serve with small toasted baguette croutons on the side.


The chowder comes by its velvety thickness simply by cooking. For the best result, take your time and make sure your onions do not brown.

Serving Size

Makes 4

Recipe: Tomato clam chowder


  • Juicy grilled tomatoes (recipe below)
  • 8 pounds cherrystone clams
  • Two 8-ounce bottles clam juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch dice
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Scrape the tomatoes and their juices from the packs into a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. In a large pot, combine the clams and clam juice and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over moderately low heat until the clams open, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the clams to a large bowl. Remove the clams from their shells, coarsely chop the meat and reserve. Strain and reserve the clam broth. Rinse out the pot.

In the same pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the reserved clam broth, potatoes, chicken broth, thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook over moderately low heat until the potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes to the pot, cover and simmer for 3 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Stir in the chopped clams and season the chowder with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

Active: 30 minutes

Total time: 1 hour

Serving Size

8 servings

Recipe: Juicy grilled tomatoes


  • 4 tomatoes (1 pound), quartered
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes (10 ounces)
  • 1 pint small mixed heirloom tomatoes, halved if large
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Light a grill. Arrange four 12-by-24-inch sheets of heavy-duty foil on a work surface. Mound the tomatoes in the center of each sheet, drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Fold up the foil to create tight packets. Set the packets on the grill and cover. Grill over moderately high heat for about 18 minutes, until the tomatoes begin to soften and burst. Using scissors, carefully cut open the foil packets and serve.

Active: 10 minutes

Total time: 25 minutes

Serving Size

4 side-dish servings

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