2 lg. (10oz.) cans or 3 sm (6.5oz) cans clams, drained and reserve juice (if you like more clams, add another can)
1/2 lb. bacon or salt pork, diced
2 onions, diced
1 C. diced celery
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbls. flour*
1 8oz. bottle clam juice + juice from the canned clams
1/2 C. white wine
3 lg. potatoes, peeled, diced
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 C. heavy cream
1 Tbls. butter
Saute bacon or salt pork in dutch oven until browned.
Add onions and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic and cook another minute or two.
*If you want a thicker chowder, add flour and cook another minute to combine. Gradually stir in clam juice and wine and cook, stirring constantly until slightly thickened. If you prefer a thinner chowder, you can skip the flour. Mashing the potatoes a bit once they’re cooked will thicken the chowder some.
Add thyme, bay leaves, celery seed, salt, pepper and diced potatoes. Bring liquid to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
Add clams, cream and butter, heat through. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. I even like to add smoked paprika, but that’s totally optional.
Garnish with a sprinkle of chopped chives and thyme, if desired.
*Since I don’t add any flour, after the onions and celery are cooked, I take a potato masher and mash the potatoes a bit to break them down.