Friday, January 7, 2011

Hot Clam and Tomato Broth

This is one of those recipes that has to be kind of slipped into the menu. My husband and I observed that consumption of tomato juice must have plummeted drastically in the years since Hewlett published this cookbook. My family used to have tomato juice in place of soup at least once a week in the warmer months. It used to show up on menus as an appetizer. Now, people don't serve soup before the main course at an ordinary family dinner. And God help the restaurant that served tomato juice as an appetizer. They would be flayed by the food critics.
Which is all to explain why this has to be slipped in. Also, as has been mentioned before, my husband is allergic to shellfish, so there has to be a stray group of guinea pigs around to try this stuff on.
Daughter's birthday party provided just such a set of guinea pigs. My husband and I hosted a somewhat raucous dinner party with four of her friends, her brother and his fiancee and us. I served the hot clam and tomato broth in the living room in demi-tasse cups to expose people to it in small amounts. It doesn't help that this stuff is now marketed as "Clamato Juice" and/or mixed with Bud Light to get something that sounded like it was spelled Chelato. Daughter said, "Clamato? No thank you."
Her friend Laura took over dolloping sour cream into the cups. (It was supposed to be whipped cream, but I didn't read the recipe first.) Laura loved it. Everyone else was polite about it. I would say, on a cold night, it's something that could be offered as an appetizer. Serve it hot.
Buying the clam juice was a hoot. I went to Whole Foods, where often buying off beat ingredients turns out to be an unrewarding effort. This time I was in luck. The first person I asked knew what I wanted, and walked to a shelf in the fish department, which turned out not to contain it. She asked a stylish looking young man, who walked down the aisle muttering, "Clahm juice, clahm juice." He located the "Clahm juice" in short order.

Hot Clam and Tomato Broth

1 1/2 cups fresh or bottled clam broth
1 1/2 cups tomato juice
juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons whipped cream
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley or chives

1. Combine the broth and tomato juice in a saucepan and bring just to a simmer. Add the lemon juice, pepper and Worcestershire.
2. Pour the broth into four hot cups and top each serving with whipped cream. Garnish the cream with the parsley or chives.
Four servings.

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