This soup can be made ahead and served hot or cold.
1 medium white onion, diced
1 large fennel bulb, fronds removed, sliced thin
1 leek, cleaned and sliced, white and light green parts only
1 ½ pounds white potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
6 cups whole milk
1 cup half-and-half
4 sprigs fresh oregano
4 sprigs fresh thyme
½ cup flour
2 tsp salt
2 large red bell peppers
6 ears sweet corn
4 6.5-oz cans of chopped clams in clam juice
1 8-oz jar of clam juice
¼ cup olive oil
3 tbsp unsalted butter
5 slices thick cut bacon
Put bacon in the freezer flat in plastic wrap or a zip bag.
To a large pot over medium-high heat add olive oil and butter. Allow butter to melt, then add onions, leek, fennel, and salt. Stirring frequently, sauté until leek and fennel become soft and onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes and sauté another 5 minutes.
Add flour, mixing to coat veggies, and cook one or two minutes longer, but don’t allow the flour to brown. Make a bundle with your fresh herbs by tying them together with kitchen string. Add clam juice, milk, half-and-half, and herbs, and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Don’t allow the milk mixture to scorch (reduce the heat if it feels like it’s sticking to the bottom of the pot). Once the mixture thickens, cover and reduce heat. Cook 20 to 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until potatoes are tender. To help the potatoes cook faster, microwave them for 1 minute before peeling.
While the potatoes are cooking, preheat your grill. Place red peppers immediately on grill grate (you don’t need to wait for a certain temp). The goal with the peppers is to char and blister the skin all over. Turn peppers every 4 or 5 minutes. Don’t worry if they blacken, but don’t let them burn. The flesh will become soft and they will puff up and may start leaking. When peppers are done (they should be soft after 20 to 30 minutes) put them in a glass bowl covered with a lid or plastic wrap. The peppers will shrivel up and the skin will loosen as they cool. Peel away the skin and any char and remove stem and seeds under cool running water. Lay cleaned peppers on a cutting board and slice into ¼-inch strips. Then cut the other way to make a uniform dice. Set aside.
While you’re cooking the peppers, shuck and de-silk the corn. Place corn on the grill over medium-high heat, turning frequently until slightly charred on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove corn from grill and allow to cool. Using a sharp knife, cut kernels from cob and set aside.
When potatoes are tender, remove milk mixture from heat. Remove herb bundle and discard. Using an immersion blender or a regular blender or food processor (working in batches) process the milk, potatoes, onion, leek, and fennel until smooth. Return mixture to the pot and add roasted corn, peppers, clams (with juice), and lemon juice.
Return to heat and bring just to a simmer once again. Taste and adjust seasoning and thickness to your liking by adding more salt or liquid.
Remove bacon from freezer and cut into ¼-inch dice. Cook over medium-high heat until fat is rendered and bits are crisp. Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel. Clean and slice scallions.
Serve soup hot or at room temperature in cups for an appetizer or as a main course accompanied by a green salad. Don’t skip the garnish — the flavor and texture of the bacon bits and scallions really make the dish.
This is a large batch of soup and keeps well in the refrigerator for at least a week. Freeze the remainder to enjoy another time, or the recipe can easily be cut in half.
Each 2-cup serving contains approximately 350 calories, 18 g fat, 31 mg cholesterol, 941 mg sodium, 36 g carbohydrate (including 12 g sugar), 13 g protein (25 percent DV), 917 mg potassium (26 percent DV), vitamin A (29 percent DV), vitamin C (91 percent), and calcium (19 percent).
Percent daily values (DV) based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your values may change depending on your calorie needs.
October 19, 2016