Most people expect a bowl of soup so thick and creamy you can stand a spoon up in it, but truth is, clam chowder, real clam chowder, has always been about the clams, with a thin but bracing broth of clam juice and a hit of dairy. We chose milk, which makes a light, clean, low-calorie chowder that won’t sit in your stomach all afternoon. There is, however, one item we won’t compromise on: bacon, whose smoky flavor pairs perfectly with the brine of the clams. You don’t need much—just one strip per serving.
Makes 4 servings
4 strips bacon, chopped
1 small onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 Tbsp flour
1 can (6.5 oz) clams, drained, juices reserved
2 cups clam juice
1 cup milk
2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1½ cups)
2 branches fresh thyme (optional)
Salt and black pepper to taste
6 g fat (2 g saturated)
650 mg sodium
How to Make It
Cook the bacon in a large saucepan or pot over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until browned and crispy. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate and reserve.
Add the onions and celery to the bacon fat and cook for about 5 minutes, until soft. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute to eliminate that raw flour taste. Pour in the reserved juices from the clams, the bottled clam juice, and the milk, stirring steadily to ensure the flour is evenly incorporated.
Bring the mixture to a simmer and add the potatoes and thyme, if using. Simmer for about 10 minutes, just until the potatoes are tender. Season with salt and black pepper. Just before serving, add the clams and simmer long enough to heat them through. Garnish with the reserved bacon.