Clam chowder is so comforting and versatile. You can serve it for a casual lunch, or the first course for an elegant Christmas Eve dinner. This soup easily comes together with little fuss. It’s the perfect make-ahead soup because its flavor improves the next day.
Start off by frying the bacon in a cast iron skillet. While the bacon starts to sizzle, chop up the yellow onion, celery, and carrots. Once the bacon is done, drain it on paper towels, and reserve the bacon grease. Saute the chopped up veggies, sprinkle on some flour, and whisk in the clam juice until it’s smooth. Fold in the cubed potatoes, then add water, 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, a bay leaf, salt, and pepper.
Bring the chowder to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes while stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low, and pour in the milk and cream. Add the whole baby clams, and let the chowder heat through for a few minutes. Serve this clam chowder with a garnish of fresh parsley and oyster crackers. If you wanted to have a slice of bread with it, try our seven-strand plaited loaf for a special touch.Print
This clam chowder is packed with flavor from the crispy bacon, yellow potatoes, whole baby clams, sauteed onion, celery, carrots, cream, milk, and spices.
For the Chowder
- 6 slices skillet-fried bacon (reserve the fat)
- 1 cup yellow onion, chopped
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 3 medium carrots, diced
- 4 1/2 cups yellow potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 3 large potatoes)
- 1 tablespoon bacon grease (reserved from frying the bacon)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 1/4 cups clam juice (reserved from the 2 cans of clams)
- 2 cups filtered water
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 1/2 cup milk
- 2 cups canned whole baby clams (reserve the liquid)
For the Garnish
- 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
- 1 cup oyster crackers
- In a cast iron skillet, fry the 6 slices of bacon over medium low heat turning once or twice with a fork. This should take 10-15 minutes. Drain the bacon on a paper towel-lined plate. Pour the bacon grease into a small bowl and set aside.
- While the bacon is cooking, dice the onion, celery, and carrots. Peel the 3 large potatoes, then cut them into small cubes.
- Put 1 tablespoon of bacon grease plus 2 tablespoons of butter in the bottom of the soup pot and saute the carrots, onion, and celery for 7 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables. Gradually add the reserved clam juice to the pot, whisking constantly to break up any lumps.
- Fold in the cubed potatoes, 2 cups of filtered water, 3 sprigs of thyme, 1 bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The chowder will start to thicken from the potato starch.
- Reduce the heat to low, then add the cream, milk, and whole baby clams. Stir gently and let the the milk and clams heat through. Be careful not to boil the chowder.
- Serve warm with a sprinkle of fresh parsley and oyster crackers.
- If you prefer, substitute the 2 cups of filtered water for 2 cups of clam juice. Just reduce the salt from 3/4 teaspoon to 1/4 teaspoon.
- This is a perfect make-ahead soup. The flavor improves with time, and can be kept in the fridge for up to three days.