There are so many versions of creamy clam chowder, this is my favorite FASTER one.
My other favorite is more time consuming to make and a bit more deeply flavored, but involves cooking clams in the shell, steeping the stock, etc.
When time is short and I want Creamy Clam Chowder this is the one I turn to. I use frozen shucked clams, or chopped clams from the can.
As usual, for most soups or stews I rarely measure, but this is the general recipe I use for my faster clam chowder. Occasionally I'll serve them in homemade bread boules/bowls as I did the other day.
I tried a new-to-me recipe for the bread bowls, it is from "Celebrate the Rain", a cookbook by the Seattle Junior League. They were remarkably good; you can read more about them in the post just below this one.
My Favorite Faster Clam Chowder---> Printable copy is available Here.
1/3 cup cubed salt pork,
OR 6 to 8 strips thick-sliced bacon, cut cross-wise into 1/4" wide strips
4 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, diced
4 ribs celery, small to medium dice
You may want to add a finely diced carrot, I usually don't
1 to 2 cloves chopped garlic (optional)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon or more fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 to 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cans (6 ounce can) chopped clams, with their juices
2 large Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
10 ounces clam juice (can use chicken stock)
3 cups half-and-half (can use whole milk)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt (more or less, to your taste)
A few dashes hot sauce (optional)
Salt and pepper
Chopped parsley leaves, for garnish
Slowly cook salt pork or bacon in a large stockpot until fat is rendered (don't overcook); remove salt pork or bacon from pan and reserve.
Melt butter in the bacon fat in the stockpot. Add onions, celery, and garlic to the pot; cook on medium-high heat until the vegetables are transparent. Add flour, stir and cook for about 5 minutes. Then add diced potatoes, clam juice and milk, bay leaf and thyme; bring to a boil. Simmer and stir for 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in clams to heat through. (At this point you can add in the cooked pork or bacon, if desired.) Season to taste with salt and pepper and hot sauce if using.
Remove from heat, find and discard bay leaf. Allow chowder to cool just slightly. Serve, garnished with chopped parsley.
I don't add the fresh, minced parsley to the chowder while it's cooking because it loses it's bright green color. Instead I serve it on top, or in a small serving dish with a spoon and let each person add, and stir in their own. And I pass the peppermill at the table ~ some people I know like lots of freshly ground black pepper in their chowder. Others like a couple of shakes of hot sauce, or a pat of butter to float on top so I offer those, too.
It's VERY good.
Just the way I like it.
If you try this version, I hope you like it, too.