3 (6.5 oz.) cans chopped/minced clams in clam juice
1 (8 oz.) bottle clam juice
6 thick center-cut bacon strips, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/4 pounds (3 1/2 cups) Russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/4-1/2” cubes
3-5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp EACH dried parsley, dried oregano, salt
1/4 tsp EACH dried thyme, pepper
1 cup heavy cream
YIELD 6 servings
Drain clam juice from cans into a measuring cup. Add enough bottled clam juice to equal 2 1/2 cups. Set aside.
In a Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until fat is rendered and slightly brown. Remove half of the bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. To the remaining bacon and drippings, melt in 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat.
Increase heat to medium high and add celery and onion. Saute for 5-7 minutes or until onions are soft. Add potatoes, garlic, red pepper flakes (if using) and sauté 30 seconds. Sprinkle in flour and cook an additional 1 minute. Stir in chicken broth, reserved 2 ½ cups clam juice, chicken bouillon, bay leaves and all seasonings. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are very tender.
Stir in heavy cream and bring to a simmer to heat through. Discard bay leaves. Remove from heat and stir in clams. Taste and add salt/pepper to taste. (You may or may not need additional salt depending on how salty your clams and bacon are.) For a thinner or less chunky soup stir in additional heavy cream/milk or chicken broth.
Top individual servings with reserved bacon and oyster crackers and fresh parsley if desired.