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Place a fine mesh strainer over a medium bowl and strain the 4 cans of minced clams, separating the meat from the juices.
Using a 6-quart dutch oven or pot of similar size, fry bacon over medium-high heat until fat renders and the edges begin to crisp.
Add onion and sauté until softened and translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Reduce heat to low and add carrots, celery and flour, stirring constantly for 3-5 minutes to avoid lumps.
Add black pepper, thyme, reserved clam juices, chicken stock, diced potatoes, and bay leaf. Stir to incorporate, then cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove bay leaf and add cream. Allow chowder to simmer for an additional 10-20 minutes until soup has thickened to an appropriate consistency.
Add in reserved clam meat and cook for an additional 2-4 minutes.
Remove from heat and serve with oyster crackers