- 4 lbs littleneck clams
- 1 tbsp butter
- 4 strips thick-cut bacon, sliced into lardons
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2" cubes
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 cups heavy cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chopped fresh chives
- Oyster crackers
Optional Clam Garnish
- 1 lb littleneck clams
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup white wine or water
- 1 garlic glove, finely minced
- 1 tbsp butter
Preparing Clams and Clam Broth (can be done up to one day ahead)
- Thoroughly rinse clams in cold water and discard clams that are open or cracked.
- Bring 3 cups of water to boil in a large stockpot over high heat. Using a slotted spoon, carefully add clams to boiling water. Turn the heat down to medium-high and cook until clams are all open, about 8-10 minutes.
- Remove clams from the water with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl or baking sheet and set aside to let cool. Discard any clams that did not open.
- Strain the broth into a bowl by using a fine-mesh sieve or a mesh strainer lined with a coffee filter. Measure out at least 3 cups of clam broth.
- Once clams have cooled, remove the meat from the shell. Rinse the meat to remove any excess sand and discard the shells. Roughly chop the clams. (If doing in advance, store clams and juice separately in sealed containers.)
Preparing the Chowder
- Melt the butter in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add sliced bacon lardons to the butter and slowly cook to render the bacon fat, about 8 minutes. Remove half the cooked bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve for garnish.
- Add celery, onion, and garlic to the pot. Stir often until the vegetables begin to sweat, about 6 minutes.
- Add the clam broth, potatoes, bay leaf, and thyme to the pot. Stir to incorporate, and bring to boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer. Stir in the heavy cream and cook for 20-25 minutes until potatoes or fork tender.
- In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with 2 tbsp of soup base and stir to make a slurry. Add to the pot and stir to thicken the soup.
- Add the chopped clams. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cook for an additional 5 minutes to warm the clams.
- Divide amongst bowls. Top with freshly chopped chives, bacon lardons, and oyster crackers.
Optional Steamed Cam Garnish
- Add olive oil to a heavy-bottom pan over high heat. Add scrubbed clams to the oil and let cook for 1-2 minutes. Add wine or water, minced garlic, and thyme. Stir, then cover to let clams steam, 3-5 minutes.
- Once clams are open, add butter to the pan and stir. Place freshly steamed clams on top of clam chowder and serve warm.