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Creamy Clam and White Bean Chowder

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.


slideshow Warming Soup Recipes


  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 8

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  • 1 1/4 cups dried cellini or Great Northern beans, rinsed and picked over, then soaked for 2 hours

  • Kosher salt

  • 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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Suggested Pairing

This bacony chowder needs a full-bodied white wine—in 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.

Contributed By Photo © Cedric Angeles Published November 2008

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