Creamy cockle & bacon chowder

by Lisa Fearn

A taste of Wales from guest demo chef and owner of The Pumpkin Patch cookery school, Lisa Fearn


1kg fresh live cockles or 400g shelled cockles                     
Juice of ½ lemon              
25g butter          
1 onion, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, trimmed and sliced           
3 rashers rindless smoked streaky bacon, sliced
1 bay leaf            
1 sprig of thyme              
300g potatoes, cut into small cubes        
300ml full fat milk           
300ml stock       
1 medium leek, finely sliced        
100ml double cream     
100ml white wine                           
1 fillet of fish such as salmon
Parsley, roughly chopped, to garnish


Wash the cockles really well and discard any with cracked or damaged shells. Put in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Swish around with your hand and drain. Repeat the process several times (this removes any sand).

Place a saucepan over a high heat, add the cockles in their shells with 150ml water and the lemon juice. Cover and steam for 4-5 mins, until the shells have all opened. Once cooked, tip them into a colander over a bowl and leave to drain, reserving the juices.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and gently fry the onion, celery and bacon with the bay leaf and thyme for 5 mins, or until softened and lightly coloured.

Add the potatoes to the pan with the vegetables, along with the milk and stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 15 mins, or until the potatoes are tender and the soup has thickened slightly.

While the soup is simmering, take the cockles out of their shells and put them into a bowl. Discard any that haven’t opened.

Add the leek, cream and wine to the pan and continue simmering for 3 or so mins, until the leeks are softened. Season to taste.              

Once the leek is softened, add a salmon fillet into the soup. Turn down the heat and allow the salmon to cook gently. Once cooked, remove the fish and break it up into small pieces. Finally, stir in the cockles and cook for 1 min more, or until hot.

To serve, place the salmon pieces on top of the soup and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve with crusty bread.

Recipe: Lisa Fearn