This thick and creamy chowder is made with diced onions, potatoes, celery, carrots, bacon and, of course, clams.
To prepare your mise en place, first cut the bacon into lardons. Peel and dice the onion, celery and carrots into about 1/4" -inch pieces. For the potatoes, peel and dice into approximately 1/2" -inch cubes. Cover the potatoes with cold water. Set everything aside.
Next, heat a small fry pan over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook it until it begins to crisp up. Once done, drain the bacon onto a paper towel, reserving the excess bacon fat.
Note: You can cook the bacon in the same pot that you make the soup; however, it tends to discolor the white color of the final chowder and does not look as attractive. Depends how picky you want to be!
To start the soup, heat a suitable-sized pot over medium-low heat. Add the bacon fat, followed by the onions and celery. Add a good pinch of salt and let sweat for about 5 to 10 minutes, until the onions become somewhat translucent. Next, add the carrots and cook for another minute or two.
Next, singer with the flour. Stir and let cook for a couple of minutes. Temper in the cold clam nectar. Temper in the cold milk and then bring the liquid to a simmer, stirring frequently. Once the liquid comes to a gentle simmer add the diced potatoes and bay leaves. Bring back up to a simmer and let cook for approximately 15 minutes or until the potatoes are just cooked through.
Next, add the clams and cook for another few minutes just to heat the clams through. Taste for seasoning, adding a bit more salt and/or freshly cracked pepper, if desired.
To serve the soup, you can either add the bacon directly to the pot and then serve or you can garnish each bowl with some of the bacons bits.
*Note: For the clams, you need about one cup. We like to use baby clams; however you can also use bigger clams and just chop them up a bit. Canned or freshly-cooked clams can be used for this recipe.