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Release date: 12/28/2004.

You'll find this recipe in it, From AN EXALTATION OF SOUPS,
copyright © 2004
by Patricia Solley,
Published by Three Rivers Press.

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Australian friend Eric Shackle, who pioneers his own eBook, recalls: "I lived in New Zealand from the age of 11 to 17 and have many happy memories of it. I remember picking up toheroa shells on the beach. They're like huge mussels, seven or eight inches long. My parents used to send me canned toheroa soup when I was a soldier in New Guinea in WWII, and it was delicious (well, much better than Army rations). It's said the only way to savour the chowder in all its glory is to visit the Land of the Long White Cloud (Australians cruelly refer to it as the Land of the Long White Shroud)."

Toheroa Soup

(New Zealand)

A wonderfully delicate soup, nicely appropriate to begin the Christmas meal in New Zealand. It features the delicate and distinctly green surf clam Toheroa (paphies ventricosa) native to Northern and Southern beaches in New Zealand and much beloved and fished by the Maori. Alas, they became popular world wide, were overfished for the cannery industry--and now are carefully protected. There are a couple local stories about how they got their name (from a powerful chief Tohe; from a spirit who directed starving people to them, urging them to dig deep, toheroa, because these agile little guys can burrow 10 inches down in the sand in no time at all). I like the apocryphal one about the American who doted on them so much that he tried to buy New Zealand just so he'd have exclusive rights to the soup. Serve hot to 4 people for a first course.

  • 6 large fresh toheroa or 12 ounces (2 small cans) tinned toheroas, drained)--NOTE: if you are forced by necessity to substitute clams, as most of us are, puree a little cooked spinach with the onion and clams to get the distinctive green color)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cups fish stock or clam juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream

Garnish: sprinkles of nutmeg

Mince, then puree the toheroas or clams in a blender. Toss in the onions and blend until pureed. Pour into a saucepan and add the fish stock and any reserved liquid, season to taste. Stir well while heating and simmer gently about 30 to 40 minutes. Beat the egg yolks, then whisk in a cup of the stock and pour back into the saucepan, stirring constantly until the soup has thickened. Stir in the cream, reheat, then serve immediately, sprinkled with a little nutmeg.