New England Clam Chowder
This soup always takes me back in time to when Dayne was in college in Boston, MA which is well known for making some of the best Clam Chowder. There was nothing like a warm bowl of it in the fall when the leaves were turning and the crisp New England air would remind me I wasn't in Texas anymore. Since then, fall has become my favorite season and I still crave a bowl of Clam Chowder to make me feel warm and cozy inside.
I was always a little intimidated to make this at home because I did not want to fuss with steaming the clams but after doing a little research I realized that even some of the fanciest restaurants use canned clams in their soups. This was something I could get on board with trying once and it turned out amazing.
While I prefer to go the more practical route and use canned clams, you can use fresh clams if you so desire. If you prefer to go this route, you will need clam juice for step 5. You rinse then steam the clams until their shells open, let cool then remove from shell, give them a rough chop and add the clams in the step 7 as you would with the canned clams.
1 package bacon (about 7 slices), diced
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, minced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/3 all-purpose flour
2 6.5 oz cans clams, drain clams, reserving clam juice in a cup or bowl
3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/4 cups half and half
Heat Dutch oven or large stock pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until crispy
Transfer bacon pieces to paper towel lined plate, leaving the bacon grease in the pot
Add the garlic, onion, carrot, and celery to Dutch oven and cook for about 5-7 minutes until the carrots begin to soften
Add flour and stir until combined
Stir in thyme, bay leaves, vegetable broth, reserved clam juice, and potatoes and bring to a simmer
Simmer for about 15 minutes until potatoes are soft
Stir in cream, clams, and ¾ of reserved bacon and simmer for about 2 minutes until clams are heated through
Remove bay leaves
Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with chives, reserved bacon pieces, and oyster crackers.