Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Jarocha Clam Soup

Back in my days with Denzer's Food Products, I almost canned this. It would have happened save for an unexpected development that led instead to canning Denzer's Maryland Crab Soup. That decision ultimately generated enough sales volume to subsidize the Denzer's line's four other more exotic soups and chowders. Possibly a good thing considering the mass conditioning in the U.S. toward the either/or proposition of creamy (Boston) clam chowder or the tomato based (Manhattan) clam chowder.

Jarocha clam soup is tomato based, but without potatoes, thus no more a chowder than it's associated with Manhattan. The recipe is from Vera Cruz, Mexico, where the term "Jarocha" refers to its people and culture.

The inspiration was a recipe from a long out of print cookbook, Good Food from Mexico. It's authors were Watt Mulvey and Luisa Maria Alverez. The book was first published in 1950, approximately a half-century before "authentic" Mexican cuisine became popular in the U. S. Simple as this concoction might seem, I've never observed a soup anything like it on a menu or encountered another recipe that's even vaguely similar.

We chose to share it this week because fresh juicy tomatoes are still in peak season. The original recipe called (presumably) for fresh tomatoes---or "chopped tomatoes, boiled and strained." That's how it was done for the above photograph. However, we only boiled our very juicy fresh tomatoes for 13 seconds in order to easily peel off the skin before chopping and straining them. In the past, rather than strain, I would simply to peel the tomatoes, chop them up and insert them when called for. Both techniques yielded equally pleasing results. The tomato seeds never bothered me a bit.


2 cloves of garlic

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 medium Spanish onions, peeled and chopped

3 medium sized tomatoes, skinned and chopped*

18 large cherrystone clams, steamed, with broth reserved

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

Brown garlic in hot oil, pressing with a fork to extract flavor. Add onions and brown lightly. Add tomatoes, which have been boiled and sieved, and fry together about five minutes. Turn into a kettle, add the clams, one quart of the clam broth, salt, pepper, and paprika. Simmer covered one hour. Serves six.
*To skin tomato, drop into rapidly boiling water for 13 seconds (no more) and remove. Skin will peel right off.
Recipe inspired by and adapted from Good Food From Mexico, by Ruth Watt Mulvey and luisa Maria Alvarez, Copyright 1950, 1962 by M. Barrows & Co. Inc. through the Macmillan Co., New York and Toronto.