Spiced Coconut Broth with Shellfish

Barton Seaver

Coastal Culinary Academy, South Freeport, ME

"This soup is incredibly versatile and able to adapt to almost any creative combination you dream up. Some of the coconut milk can be substituted with fish stock or wine for a more complex broth. Butternut squash adds an untraditional twist to this recipe; its earthy sweetness balances the citrusy broth." - Barton Seaver 


  • 24 littleneck clams or 2 pounds mussels, washed thoroughly (discard any open or damaged ones)
  • 1 cup clam juice or white wine
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, bruised with the flat end of a knife
  • 2 strips lime or lemon zest
  • 2 pods star anise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups finely diced butternut squash (about 1 small squash)
  • 2 plum tomatoes, cored and diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • Pinch crushed red chile flakes
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons almond or roasted peanut oil (optional)
  • 1 lime, cut in 4 wedges 


Combine the clams and clam juice in a heavy pot, and heat over high heat. Cook, covered, until the clams open, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and, working over the pot, pick out the clam meat and transfer to a bowl. Discard shells and any clams that haven’t opened. Pour the cooking liquid through a fine mesh sieve into another pot, taking care to separate any grit left from the clams.

Add the coconut milk, water, lemongrass, lime zest, star anise, and bay leaf to the cooking liquid. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 20 minutes. Pluck out the lemongrass, lime zest, star anise, and bay leaf and discard.

Add the butternut squash and simmer until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cilantro, chile flakes, and the reserved clam meat and simmer gently until warmed through. Season with salt if needed. Divide the soup among the four bowls, drizzle each with the almond oil, if using, and serve with the lime wedges.


Serves 4