Centuries ago, settlers from Minorca, an island near the coast of Spain, were brought to Florida. They worked as indentured servants on Florida's indigo plantations.
Once here, the Minorcans created the rich chowder blending their Mediterranean cooking methods with local seafood, herbs and produce. This chowder has become synonymous with St. Augustine’s multi-cultural heritage and cuisine.
Florida's Minorcan Clam Chowder
- 1 quart fresh shucked Taylor clams
- 4 oz. salt pork
- 1 datil pepper, minced
- 1 medium onion, diced in small pieces
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 1 cup diced small red potatoes, peeled (2-3 total)
- 1 15-ounce chopped tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon fresh garlic (1-2 cloves)
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon rosemary
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
- 2 cups fish stock
- Take 4 oz. of salt pork and cut up in tiny pieces.
- Place in a soup pot and cook for 10 minutes.
- When the salt pork is browned, scoop out and place on a paper towel (leave the fat in pan).
- With the remaining rendered fat add the diced onion, green pepper and carrots.
- Cook 5-10 minutes until the onions look translucent.
- Stir in one 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes, 3 tablespoons of tomato paste, all the seasonings.
- Add one minced datil pepper.
- Add the 8-ounce bottle of clam juice and 2 cups of fish stock.
- Let it simmer on low heat for 1 hour.
- Place the clams in a large pan over medium high heat with 1/3 cup of water.
- Cover the pan and cook the clams for approximately 10 minutes.
- When the clams open, they are cooked.
- Remove from stove.
- Back at the sink, place the clams in the colander, let drain.
- Any clams that do not open, throw away.
- When the clams cool, remove the meat from the shells.
- Chop the clam meat in diced pieces. Discard the remaining clamshells.
- Set clams aside.
- Add one cup of the diced potatoes to the soup.
- Cook approximately 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender but not mushy.
- Add the chopped clams and cooked salt pork.
- Cook just long enough until the clams and pork are heated through (5 minutes).
- Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
This is a soup that tastes even better the next day because the flavors have had more time to meld together.