Chowder Sweet Molly Malone


  • 2 1/2 pounds cockles or small littleneck clams, in their shells
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 1/2 pounds mussels, in their shells
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, washed and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium onions, peeled, finely diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 medium waxy potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 or 2 (8 ounce) bottles clam juice (optional)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 6 lemon wedges, seeds removed


  1. Heat oven to 250 degrees F. Place 6 soup plates on rack to warm.
  2. Scrub the cockles or clams in cold running water and drain. Throw out any open ones. Place 1/2 cup wine and 1/2 cup water into a wide skillet with a tight-fitting lid. Add the cockles and cover tightly. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, shaking often. Lift the lid often. Quickly remove the cockles as they open. Do not overcook. When all cockles have opened, remove the meat from their shells, discarding any that have remained closed. Carefully strain the cooking liquid through a fine sieve and reserve. Reserve 6 whole cockles for garnishing final chowder.
  3. Rinse the mussels, scrub extensively and remove the beard (many that you buy today have the beard removed; when in doubt, ask the fish salesperson). Cook the mussels by using the above procedures. Reserve cooking liquid and 6 whole mussels.
  4. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in 5-quart soup pot over high heat and add the leeks and the onions. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add bay leaf, potatoes, reserved cockle and mussel cooking liquid and remaining white wine. (You may need to add enough bottled clam juice to cover the potatoes and onions for simmering.) Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, partially cover and simmer over low heat until potatoes are tender. Add heavy cream and simmer chowder until the cream is somewhat reduced and you have a succulent consistency. Add reserved cockle and mussel meat and simmer for a few minutes to heat thoroughly. Taste and add salt, if necessary, and pepper. Remove bay leaf and swirl in remaining butter.
  6. Remove soup plates from oven; add chowder to each.
  7. Garnish each serving with a reserved whole cockle and mussel, and lemon wedges. Sprinkle with parsley.
  8. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings