Thick and creamy clam chowder filled with plenty of potatoes, clams, and bacon is perfect for a weeknight dinner or a special occasion. This is an excellent clam chowder that rivals some of the best chowder I’ve ever eaten. (and yes, that includes Pike Place Chowder!)
I’ve tried several different clam chowder recipes over the past few years and I’ve never liked one enough to share it with you. However, I absolutely love this Chunky Clam Chowder; it is rich and flavorful with the clam flavor present in every bite. This is your best potato soup taken to a completely new level.
- 4 strips bacon sliced into 1/2" pieces
- 1 yellow onion finely chopped, about 1 cup's worth
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons all purpose or brown rice flour
- 2 large russet potatoes peeled and chopped into 1/2" pieces, about 4 cups worth
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 8 ounce jar of clam juice
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 6.5 ounce cans chopped clams
- Optional: crackers for serving
- In a large pot, over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until it begins to brown, but isn't yet crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate and drain all but a tablespoon of the bacon drippings. Add the butter to the hot pan and swirl to melt. Add the onion to the pot and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle the flour over the onion, stir, and cook another 2 minutes.
- Stir in the clam juice, cream and milk, potatoes, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Raise the heat to medium high and bring just to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan as you stir. Reduce the heat to medium-low and barely simmer while stirring frequently until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaves, add the cooked bacon, and the clams along with their juice. Stir over low heat for about a minute to warm everything through. Ladle into bowls and top with crackers, if desired, just before serving. Enjoy!
Feel free to substitute 2 1/2 cups half and half for the heavy cream and whole milk. I've also made this soup without the cream and with milk alone and it is good, but we prefer it with the cream.
When simmering potatoes in cream or milk, be careful not to boil the soup. You're looking for a low boil initially and then barely a simmer as they cook. Stir frequently as the soup is cooking, to prevent the soup from scorching on the bottom of the pan.