2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
3/4 pound kielbasa, diced
4 cups frozen diced hash browns (half a 32-ounce bag)
1 large onion, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
1 bay leaf
5-6 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 rounded tablespoon seafood seasoning (a generous palmful), such as Old Bay brand
4 large ears corn on the cob or 3 cups frozen kernels
1 can diced fire-roasted tomatoes (15 ounces)
1 quart chicken stock
4 dozen littleneck clams
Hot sauce, to taste
1 lemon, zested and juiced
A handful of fresh flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
4 jumbo sourdough English muffins, split
3 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons chopped chives
Heat a large soup pot with EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the kielbasa and brown for two minutes; add the potatoes, onions, celery, bay, thyme and salt and pepper and let the veggies soften up for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pat shrimp dry and toss with a rounded tablespoon of seafood seasoning.
Invert a small bowl and place at the bottom of a larger bowl. Shuck corn and stand cobs on their ends on the small bowl. Scrape off kernels. Add corn to soup pot.
Add the tomatoes and stock to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook for 4-5 minutes. Add the shrimp and clams and replace the cover. Cook until shrimp are pink and firm and the clams have opened up, 5-6 minutes. Finish stoup with hot sauce, lemon zest and juice and a handful of parsley.
While the seafood cooks, toast the English muffins. Soften the butter in the microwave. Mash the garlic with a little salt and make a paste. Add the chives and garlic paste to the softened butter and mix. Rub hot toasted muffins with garlic/butter mixture and chop into large dice.
Serve stoup in shallow bowls with muffin croutons. Place an extra bowl at each setting to collect shells as you eat your Clam Bake Stoup.