British seaside chowder with saffron

British seaside chowder with saffron

Home Comforts
Yuki Sigura

Whenever I visit the seaside I’m a sucker for cockles and whelks, but the idea of turning them into a chowder is from farther afield. This is such a quick and simple soup when you have the seafood to hand. Use whatever local shellfish you can get your hands on as long as you stick to the same amounts, but this is a good traditional version.


Quantity Ingredient
2 tomatoes
300ml white wine
1kg mixed shellfish: cockles, clams, mussels, winkles, soaked in cold water
50g unsalted butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 fennel bulb, finely chopped
1/2 leek, finely chopped, white part only
250g potatoes, peeled and cut into 5mm pieces
2 pinches saffron strands
1 star anise
500ml chicken stock
175ml double cream
75g samphire, trimmed
12 shelled cooked whelks
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
handful celery leaves
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


  1. First, skin and deseed the tomatoes: bring a saucepan of water to the boil, take out the stalk of the tomatoes and make crosses on the bases.
  2. Drop the tomatoes into the water and simmer for 10–15 seconds until the skin starts to peel away. Lift straight out into a bowl of iced water and peel off the skin. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and remove the seeds, then finely chop the flesh.
  3. Heat a sauté pan until hot, add the wine and the shellfish, cover and cook for three to five minutes until just cooked through. Strain into a colander over a bowl, reserving the cooking liquor, and allow to cool slightly before picking the meat out of the shells.
  4. Wipe out the sauté pan, then add the butter, shallot and garlic and sweat for a couple of minutes, then add the fennel, leek, potatoes, saffron and star anise and cook for another minute.
  5. Add the reserved cooking liquor and chicken stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for three to four minutes until the potatoes are just tender.
  6. Add the cream and samphire then simmer for another couple of minutes until just thickened. Reduce the heat then add the tomatoes and all the shellfish, including the whelks, and gently warm through. Add the chives and celery leaves and season to taste (you probably won’t need much salt).
  7. Serve straight away.
James Martin
Saturday Kitchen
comfort food
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