This light New England style chowder can be made with fresh or canned clams. Thyme, bacon, red potatoes, two types of milk (evaporated milk and reduced fat 1% milk) and a splash of sherry keep it authentic, but if you like your chowder thick consider making a roux.
4 (6 1/2-ounce) cans chopped clams
2 (8-ounce) bottles clam juice
5 slices center-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 teaspoons butter
2 cups cubed red potato
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 1/4 cups evaporated fat-free milk
1 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk
1 1/2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
How to Make It
Drain clams in a colander over a bowl, reserving juice. Add bottled clam juice to reserved juice to equal 3 1/2 cups. Set aside clams and juice.
Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon, reserving 2 teaspoons drippings in pan. Return bacon to pan; increase heat to medium-high. Add onion, celery, and butter; sauté 6 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Add clam juice mixture, potato, and next 4 ingredients (through bay leaf); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until potato is tender. Stir in clams, evaporated milk, 1% milk, and sherry. Cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaf. Sprinkle with parsley.
If fresh clams are available, use about 1 1/2 cups chopped clams.