Molly Malone: A Soup And Song For St. Patrick's Day Irish cookbook author Rachel Allen shares a recipe for Molly Malone chowder, a soup inspired by the Irish folk song about a doomed fishmonger.

Molly Malone: A Soup And Song For St. Patrick's Day

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Get out your green, St. Patrick's Day is nigh - this Sunday, in fact. But don't worry, you will be prepared. Or at least your table will be. See, we have an Irish chef.

RACHEL ALLEN: Hi, I'm Rachel Allen and I'm from a place called Ballymaloe in County Cork. You know, this is not a day that I'm going to have a Southeast Asian broth.

BLOCK: Because, while delicious, Southeast Asian broth isn't Irish, which, hello, is the point of celebrating St. Patrick's Day. Rachel Allen says, for her, it's a day spend with family enjoying good home-cooked Irish food. And one of those dishes is today's found recipe, a hearty soup she named after a popular folksong.

ALLEN: Molly Malone's cockle and mussel chowder.


ALLEN: This song, "Molly Malone," is a song that any self-respecting Irish person knows exactly. They say she's a fictional character, but I think she was real. She was a fishmonger and she used to wheel her wheelbarrow through streets broad and narrow. And she sold the fish and lots of cockles and mussels.


ALLEN: Alive, alive-o, as in fresh, fresh. Cockles, mussels, you know I have on my barrow. So my recipe, Molly Malone's cockle and mussel chowder, it is a meal in a bowl. As we say in Ireland, it has both eating and drinking in it. Actually, that's what people often say about a pint of stout. You've got obviously cockles and mussels. If you can't find cockles, clams are a perfect replacement for the cockles, but you've also got some smoked bacon.

And I really love using smoked bacon because I love the salty, smoky flavor, how it works with the sort of sweet, salty, you know, cockles and mussels. I also put into this some leeks, carrots and some potatoes, a little bit of wine, white wine and then some milk and cream and lots of fresh chopped parsley over the top.


ALLEN: This is the kind of recipe that I find incredibly comforting to make. It's the kind of dish that I just love to give to family and friends and it's warming, it's cozy. You know, it's like a big hug in a bowl and our children love it.


BLOCK: That's Rachel Allen, sharing her recipe, Molly Malone's cockle and mussel chowder. You can find it on the ALL THINGS CONSIDERED page at One last thing. What became of that sweet fishmonger?

ALLEN: So, poor Molly Malone, it wasn't really a happy ending for her. As it goes in the song, she died of a fever and no one could save her. And that was the end of sweet Molly Malone. So it's kind of sad. It's ever so slightly tragic, but really it's the most beloved of songs. And if you walk into any Irish bar or pub on St. Patrick's Day, you are bound to hear people singing that song.


BLOCK: That's the Dubliners there and you're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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