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Clams Minestrone

The style of the diced vegetables should be paysanne or country style. In other words, they need not be uniform, just roughly the same size. Prepare all ingredients before starting the soup. The actual cooking time is under one hour. Makes about 6 quarts; serves 10 to 12 as a main course.


8 ounces dried cannellini, white, lima or other large white beans

10 pounds cherrystone clams, scrubbed and rinsed

4 ounces meaty salt pork (such as Smithfield or Gwaltney) or pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice

3 tablespoon Filippo Berio olive oil

8 cloves garlic, chopped

1 1/2 to 2 medium onions (12 ounces), cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch dice

2 to 3 carrots (6 ounces), peeled and cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch dice

2 to 3 ribs celery (4 ounces), cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch dice

2 cups dry white wine

1 large Maine or other all-purpose potato (8 ounces), peeled and cut into 1/2- to 3/4- inch dice

1/4 head Savoy cabbage (6 ounces), shredded

1 small zucchini (4 ounces), cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch dice

1 can (14 ounce) San Marzano tomatoes, cut into 3/4 inch dice (save juice)

Kosher or sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

8 basil leaves, chopped

1/2 bunch green Swiss chard or spinach (4 ounces), stems removed, leaves blanched and coarsely chopped 1/2- to 3/4-inch dice)

Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Crusty Italian bread


Soak the beans in water overnight. Simmer the beans in unsalted water until very tender but not falling apart, then drain. Reserve half of the best unbroken beans and mash the remaining beans or pass through a food mill.

Place 3 cups of water in an 8- to 10-quart stock pot (with a tight fitting lid) and bring to a boil over high heat. When it boils, add the clams and cover the pot. Cook for 5 minutes. Quickly uncover the pot and stir the clams so they cook evenly. Cover and cook about 5 minutes longer until they are all open. Remove pot from the stove and, holding the clams in the pot, pour as much of the broth into a tall narrow container. Let the broth sit for 10 minutes to let the sediment and grit settle to the bottom. Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer and reserve. You will get about 6 cups of broth. Remove the clams from the shell and dice each one into about 6 pieces. You will get over 1 pound of clam meat. Refrigerate until ready to use.

In a large heavy soup pot (8 quarts), fry the salt pork in the olive oil over medium heat until it is brown and crispy. Add the garlic for about 30 seconds until it begins to pick up a golden color. Then, add the onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring often, for 6 to 8 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Add the clam broth, white wine, bean puree, potato and Savoy cabbage. Stir until the bean puree is dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes until the potatoes begin to soften.

Add the zucchini, tomatoes and cooked whole beans. Simmer for 10 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Remove from the heat. It is beneficial to allow it to sit and “cure” for at least 1/2 hour.

When ready to serve, heat the soup to a near boil. Stir in the basil, Swiss chard and clam meats and simmer for 5 minutes. Check the seasoning (salt and pepper). Serve in large soup plates or bowls. Sprinkle lightly with grated cheese and serve extra grated cheese in small bowls. Good Italian bread is needed to complete this one-pot meal.
This recipe was originally featured on show 2213 – Clams – Le Vongole.  It was brought to us and presented by Seafood Super Chef Jasper White.


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