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Spicy Raw Clam Soup with Cilantro
This offbeat, sea-bright summer soup—it's like a bowl of Southwestern clam cocktail—offers a real chili kick.

Ingredients:
36 littleneck clams
3/4 cup very finely diced sweet red bell pepper
6 tablespoons very finely diced green bell pepper
1 tablespoon very finely diced hot green chili (preferably jalapeño)
3/4 cup very finely minced fresh cilantro leaves
3/4 teaspoon garlic, minced to a paste with a little salt
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 cup fruity olive oil
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Shuck the clams over a large bowl, very carefully reserving the clam juice. Set aside the juice (you will have about 2 cups) and the raw clams.
2. In a large mixing bowl combine the diced bell peppers, the diced chile, the cilantro, and the garlic. Stir well. Add the lime juice, stir, and, while stirring, add the olive oil in a stream. finally, while stirring, slowly pour in the reserved 2 cups of clam juice. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper.
3. Divide the soup among 6 wide, shallow soup bowls. Place 6 clams in each bowl and serve.

This offbeat, sea-bright summer soup—it's like a bowl of Southwestern clam cocktail—offers a real chile kick. Adjust the amount of chiles called for in the recipe according to your chile threshold, and to the heat of the chiles you're using. You can also adjust the amount of clams if you're serving clam fanatics: simply double the clams (only), and each diner will get a dozen. Serves 6 as a first course