Like tomato sauce in Italy, for every home on the Cape, there is a slightly different way to make clam chowder — and they are all "the best." Some are thick and potato heavy, others less viscous and more herbaceous. This one is right in the middle.
Put the clams in a large soup or stock pot, add 3 cups water, and place over medium-high heat. Cover and bring to a simmer. Cook, shaking the pot occasionally, just until the clams open, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked clams to a bowl and set aside. Discard any clams that did not open. Strain the cooking liquid into a bowl through a sieve lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter and set aside.2.
Rinse and dry the pot thoroughly and place over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until browned but not crispy and most of the fat has been rendered, about 10 minutes. Using the slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.3.
Add the onion and celery to the pot with the bacon fat and cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the flour and cook until lightly browned. Add the reserved clam broth 1 cup at a time, whisking vigorously to remove any lumps of flour. Add the potatoes, thyme sprigs and bay leaf and simmer for 10 minutes.4.
Remove the clams from their shells, reserving any liquid that accumulated in the bowl, and chop the meat coarsely. Discard the shells. Add the clams and any liquid in the bowl to the pot along with the cream. Cook, stirring gently once or twice, just until the potatoes are tender and the clams are heated through, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Stir in the parsley.5.
Ladle into 6 individual bowls, dividing the clam meat evenly, and serve hot.
Excerpted from A Little Taste of Cape Cod by Annie B. Copps. Copyright © 2018. Reprinted by permission of Blue Streak, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Publishers.
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