This Kicked Up Creamy Clam Chowder is hearty, satisfying, and extremely comforting! It’s rich and creamy without being too heavy, and it will completely warm you right up with its delicious smoky notes on cold days!
2 6.5oz/184g cans of Minced Clams in Clam Juice (I used Bumble Bee’s)
1–2 Spring Onions – chopped
1 tablespoon of grated Cheddar Jack cheese (or Sharp Cheddar) per bowl (I use Tillamook’s Farm Style Cut cheese that comes in a bag because it is SOOO GOOOD when it melts into the soup! You can also just use freshly grated Cheddar cheese.)
Combine all the spices in a small bowl and set aside. Cover with cling wrap or a small plate to prevent the spices from being blown everywhere.
Chop the garlic, onion, celery, carrots, potatoes, spring onion, and bacon. Set aside.
Measure out the chicken broth, cooking cream, and whole milk in measuring cups.
Set a strainer over a medium sized bowl and drain the minced clam cans. Reserve the juice and set both aside.
For the Kicked Up Creamy Clam Chowder:
Place a large stockpot or Dutch oven (cocotte) on your stove and set to medium-high heat. Let it heat up for a minute or so until hot, then add the bacon strips. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until brown and crispy but not burnt. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain once they are almost done. Set aside for the garnish.
Add two tablespoons of unsalted butter to the pot with the bacon grease and let it heat up and melt. Once melted, add the onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes or until translucent. Then add the carrots and celery and continue sautéing until tender.
Season with the spices in the spice bowl you made earlier, and stir everything to combine until the spices are evenly distributed.
Add the all purpose flour and bay leaves. Continue stirring and cooking to form a roux until flecks of white from the flour aren’t visible. Make sure the flour has properly integrated with the vegetables.
Gradually pour in the clam juice, chicken stock, cooking cream, and whole milk while continuing to stir. Let simmer for a minute or two.
Add the Tabasco, Bacon Hot Sauce, and potatoes and stir. Scrape the bottom of the pot to make sure nothing is sticking to it, then set the stove to medium heat and cover the pot with the lid.
Let the soup come to a boil and simmer for 20-25 minutes, uncovering the pot and stirring periodically every 8-10 minutes.
During the last 12-15 minutes of simmering, add the clams and 2 TBLS milk (or more as required if the soup is too thick). Cover and let simmer.
Remove the lid and stir the soup. Check to ensure the potatoes are tender and have cooked through by stabbing a piece with a knife or fork. If they have softened, switch off the stove and remove the pot from the heat. (If the potatoes need to cook a little longer, let the soup simmer uncovered for 5 minutes longer while stirring occasionally.)*
To Serve/Garnish: Ladle out the soup in bowls and garnish with the chopped spring onion, bacon strips, and about a tablespoon of cheddar jack cheese for each bowl. Enjoy with your favorite type of crusty bread! And do add more Tabasco and black pepper on top of the soup if your heart wishes so (mine TOTALLY does! 😉)
The time for simmering the soup will vary depending on the type of potatoes you use. For example, Yukon Gold potatoes will soften quicker than Russet potatoes. You’ll know the soup is done after about 20-25 minutes of simmering and once the potatoes are soft. But if your potatoes are not yet tender, you can cook for a few minutes longer until they have cooked through. Be careful not to cook too long though as the clams can overcook and become rubbery! It’s best to chop your potatoes into small cubes instead of dice them into large bite sized pieces. (Yes, I totally screwed up the very first time I made this clam chowder and had to eat bowl after bowl of creamy soup with rubbery clams since I don’t like to waste food. But I’ve perfected this Kicked Up Creamy Clam Chowder recipe since then and hence, why you’re getting in on this delicious chowdaa now! 🤗
You can freeze this clam chowder for up to three months if desired. Freeze in a freezer safe container or bowls without the garnish. Thaw in the fridge overnight, reheat over the stovetop or in the microwave, then add the garnish as per normal.