White beans substitute for the usual potatoes in this chowder, made with sweet butternut squash, briny littleneck clams and smoky bacon. Rancho Gordo cellini beans give the soup a buttery richness, but Great Northern beans are terrific as well.
Warming Soup Recipes
1 1/4 cups dried cellini or Great Northern beans, rinsed and picked over,
then soaked for 2 hours
1 1/4 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice (2 cups)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
3 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
6 thick slices of bacon (4 ounces), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 large celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/3 cups dry white wine
1 cup heavy cream
Garlic Bread, for serving
How to Make It
In a saucepan, cover the beans with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 1 1/2 hours; add water as needed to keep the beans covered by 2 inches. Season the beans with salt and let stand for 5 minutes. Drain the beans, reserving 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash with the oil; season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes, until browned.
Set a colander over a bowl. In a skillet, cook the clams and 2 tablespoons of water over moderately high heat, covered, shaking the skillet a few times, until the clams open, 5 minutes. Transfer the opened clams to the colander; discard any that do not open. Remove the clams from their shells. Strain and reserve 1 cup of the clam broth.
In a saucepan, brown the bacon over moderately low heat, about 4 minutes. Stir in the butter. Add the onion, celery and crushed red pepper, cover and cook, stirring, until softened, 8 minutes. Add the garlic, cover and cook until fragrant, 4 minutes. Add the wine and boil until reduced by two-thirds, 6 minutes. Pour in the reserved clam broth, the reserved bean cooking liquid and the cream; simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the beans, squash and clams; simmer just until heated through. Serve the chowder in bowls with the Garlic Bread alongside.
This bacony chowder needs a full-bodied white winein other words, buttery, oak-inflected California Chardonnay. Good Chardonnay producers farm vineyards to keep the grapes' acidity high, which prevents robust whites from becoming cloying.
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