48 small clams, like littleneck or Manila, well rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
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2 cups diced onion
2 cups diced leek
Salt and pepper
1 cup diced celery
2 bay leaves
1 large thyme sprig
6 ounces thick-sliced smoked bacon
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
½ pound spinach, cooked briefly, squeezed dry and chopped
6 tablespoons crème fraîche
Zest of one small lemon
2 tablespoons chopped dill
½ cup thinly sliced scallions
1. Put clams in a large deep skillet and add 4 cups water. Cover tightly with lid and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high and continue cooking until all clams have opened, about five minutes. Remove lid and let clams cool. Shuck clams, discarding shells, and reserve in small bowl. Strain broth through a fine-meshed sieve. You should have about 3½ cups clam juice. Keep warm over low heat.
2. Put olive oil and butter in a wide heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and leek, season with salt, pepper and cayenne, and cook until softened, about five minutes. Add celery, bay leaves and thyme sprig and cook for five minutes more.
3. Meanwhile, bring 1 cup water to a boil in a small pot. Cut bacon crosswise into ½-inch lardons. Simmer lardons for two minutes, then drain. Add lardons to soup pot, along with potatoes. Season generously, stir to coat and cook for one minute.
4. Add 3½ cups warm clam broth and bring pot to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, about seven to 10 minutes. Check seasoning.
5. Just before serving, add reserved shucked clams, stir in spinach and heat through. Stir together crème fraîche and lemon zest and season to taste. Ladle soup into wide bowls. Add a tablespoon of crème fraîche mixture to each bowl and sprinkle with dill and scallions.
David Tanis, The New York Times