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Drain clam juice from each can into a measuring cup and keep clams separate in a small bowl.
Cut bacon slices into sliced 1/2" pieces. Add to a large stock pot over medium low heat. Slowly render and cook until crisp. Remove bacon with slotted spoon and set aside.
Add the onions and celery to the bacon fat, turn heat up to medium high and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and flour and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add both the drained and bottle of clam juice, heavy cream, potatoes, kosher salt, pepper and thyme. Stir to mix thoroughly and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer and cook for 15 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally, scraping bottom of pan.
Use a potato masher and carefully mash to desired thickness. I like to leave chunks of potatoes. Add the reserved clams, stir through and cook another minute or two until warmed through.
Serve topped with bacon crumbles and crusty bread.