This is hands down my all time favorite soup recipe. I have not had a clam chowder that tastes better than this…I won’t even order it at restaurants any more. However, I do realize that I don’t live any where were there are fresh clams so there might be a better clam chowder out there, but I haven’t had it. My 7yo daughter begs and begs for this as well, so despite the 120 degree temps outside, I made it for her.
Before you move down to the recipe, I’m warning you now that I make this in a pressure cooker (it can be made in a regular pot as well). Pressure cookers have come a long way and are really safe. My favorite brand is Kuhn Rikon, but there are a lot of other really good ones there too. Maybe one day I will do a whole pressure cooker post. I’m not going to tell y’all that I have 3 of them. Don’t judge me until you have one….they are AWESOME!
Also, I use a couple of specialty ingredients, but they are worth it! I love Ultra Gel…it is an instant thickener. I found another brand on Amazon. I also use clam base. It adds a wonderful flavor to the chowder. The brand I use is hard to find, but I’m sure any one would work. I have made the chowder without the clam base and it is still really good, but the clam base takes it over the top!
To serve, I usually set up a toppings bar and let everyone top their chowder how they want. The kids think it’s fun!
6 slices bacon, cut up
2 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans clams, with juice, 10-oz cans
2 Tbsp clam base
1 cup celery, chopped
4 potatoes, cubed (4 or 5)
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
3 cups half and half, whipping cream, or any grade milk*
Ultra Gel (instant thickener) or 2 tbls corn starch & 1/4 cup broth
In 5 quart pressure cooker, fry bacon until tender. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels (reserve about 2 slices for topping). Deglaze pot with butter and onion. Add garlic and sauté until vegetables are tender.
Add clams, clam base, celery, potatoes, chicken broth, and spices. Bring to a boil. Put on pressure lid and bring to second red ring. Time for 3-5 minutes, then drop pressure immediately under cold water. (Or boil on the stove top until the potatoes are tender.)
Add half and half and heat through. Thicken with Ultra Gel to get desired consistency (or combine 2 tbls corn starch with 1/4 cup broth and add to the chowder; add more if needed). Adjust seasonings.
**I usually use a combination of whatever milk I have on hand and whatever (unflavored) half & half we have for our coffee.