Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and celery, and sauté 5 minutes or until onion is soft. Stir in potato and next 5 ingredients (potato through bay leaf). Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 12 minutes or until potato is tender.
Combine milk and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture and clams to saucepan, and bring to a simmer. Cook 2 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken, stirring frequently. Discard bay leaf. Ladle soup into bowls; garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.
I made just a few tweaks to this recipe based on others' reviews, and I absolutely loved it. My changes: Used 2 cans of clams, with their juice, and added 1/2 cup water instead of bottled clam juice. Started the veg in 2t bacon fat instead of olive oil. Used 2 1/2T flour. Simmered longer at the end (about 10 minutes) till the flavors were all blended and it was nicely thickened. Fantastic! Rich and creamy, but without the stick of butter and cup of cream they'd add at most restaurants. And so easy. I'll make this again for sure.
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