A Dutch oven is the most versatile pot that one can have in their kitchen. It is my go to pot for braising, making soups, gumbo…you name it.
Author and French food authority, Hillary Davis, reached out to me and asked if I’d take a look at her new cookbook called Le French Oven. Based on the name alone, I agreed.
Le French Oven is a beautifully written hard bound book that dives into the history and detail of where Dutch ovens originate from, and who is still making the best today, like Le Creuset of course. Davis explains how to care for them, how to use the cookbook, and moves right into the twelve food chapters, always ending with ideas and suggestions.
The photography by Steven Rothfeld is breathtaking, and brings back fond memories of my days spent along the French countryside in the magnificent bistros. If you like to cook simple classic French recipes, I highly recommend this cookbook. It’s the perfect way to spend a weekend in France, without ever leaving your own kitchen!
The recipe I chose to make was for Red Clam Soup With Saltine Crumb Garnish. Much different than a chowder, it is light and fragrant. Davis chose to use canned clams for her recipe, but since I live on the Gulf Coast and had access to some harvested farm fresh from Cedar Key, I went that route. Either will work fine. The saltine garnish is important as it gives a flavor bomb to the soup and also slightly thickens the delicious broth.
Red Clam Soup With Saltine Garnish
Needs: 3 quart or larger French Oven and a food processor
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 whole garlic cloves, minced
4 large unpeeled tomatoes, even small chop with juices and seeds
1 medium white onion, minced
3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and even small dice
1 cup dry white wine
2 1/2 cups botled clam broth
3, 10-ounce can baby clams
1, 6.5 ounce can chopped clams
OR steam 4 pounds of fresh Cedar Key clams in chicken broth until they pop oven, remove and discard shells
2 1.2 teaspoons salt
In the French oven, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and add the onion and garlic cooking until soft and translucent. About 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, salt, wine and clam broth and bring to a boil over medium heat cooking for 15 minutes and then reducing to a simmer until the potatoes are fork tender. Add tomatoes with juices and seeds, clams, and cook for 10 more minutes.
12 Saltine crackers
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 whole garlic cloves
1/2 cup fresh curly parsley leaves tightly packed hard stems removed
1/8 teaspoon salt
In a food processor crumble the saltines, add remaining salt, parsley, oil and whole garlic cloves, and process until granular.
Mound on center of each soup bowl and serve.
Note: I also used canned San Marzano tomatoes. I drained the juice and set aside, then but 8 of the small tomatoes that were peeled to equal Davis’s 4. My sauce did give the soup a richer texture, perfect for a fall evening.
I also use the Schar brand table cracker as I’m Gluten free.