Clam Potato Leek Soup (or ... Clam Chowder)

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This recipe was in this week's Washington Post express. It wasn't explicitly cited, but I think its from a book about new Brooklyn restaurants. The recipe is called Clam Potato Leek Soup, but really it's clam chowder. It was quite tasty.

I've replicated the recipe as we first made it here, but I've made some notes at the bottom about how we would modify the recipe next time to improve it.

Ingredients
* 40 Littleneck clams, at least 20 of which are in the shell
* 1 cup dry white wine
* 4 medium waxy potatoes, unpeeled (red or purple if you want color, white if you don't)
* 4 slices of pancetta, thick cut like bacon would be
* 1 leek, white and tender green parts thinly sliced
* 1 shallot, thinly sliced
* ⅔ cup heavy cream
* 1⅓ cup milk
* minced fresh chives (optional)

Preparation
If using clams in shell:
1. Discard any clam with broken, cracked shells that do not close when firmly tapped.
2. Fill a large bowl with salted water.
3. Add the clams and soak for 10 minutes,
4. Drain, then scrub them with a brush to remove any grit.
5. Place the clams and wine in a large pot over medium-high heat.
6. Cover and cook until the clams open, about 8 minutes.
7. Strain the clams and reserve the liquid.
8. Remove clams from the shell and discard any that did not open.
9. Cut each clam into 2 or 3 pieces.

If using clams out of shell:
1. Rinse clams well. Cut each clam into 2 or 3 pieces.
2. Place the clams and wine in a large pot over medium-high heat.
3. Cover and cook until the clams begin to cook, about 3 minutes.
4. Strain the clams and reserve the liquid.

While the clams are cooking, cut the potatoes into a medium dice (1/2" pieces) and place them into a bowl of water. Cut pancetta into 1/2" dice.

Cook the pancetta in a large pot over medium heat until the fat is rendered, about ten minutes.

In the meantime, drain the potatoes and cook in the microwave for 1 minute to soften.

Add the leeks and shallots to the pot. Cook for a few minutes until softened.

Reduce the heat to medium-low abnd add potatoes to the pot.

Cook covered, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Add the cream, milk, and reserved clam/wine juice. Cook for 5 minutes.

Blend 1 cup of the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender.

Return the pureed soup back to the pot. Add the reserved chopped clams and cook until heated.

Adjust spices (probably add a bit of salt and pepper). Top with fresh chives and serve (in a breadbowl if you have it!).

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