3 8-ounce bottles clam juice
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (used red potatoes)
2 tablespoons butter
3 slices bacon, finely chopped (used more bacon)
2 cups chopped onions (used half onion and leeks)
1 1/4 cups chopped celery with leaves (about 2 large stalks)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup all purpose flour
6 6 1/2-ounce cans chopped clams, drained, juices reserved (used half fresh Maine clams and canned clams)
1 1/4 cups half and half (used heavy cream)
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until bacon begins to brown, about 8 minutes. Add onions, celery, garlic and bay leaf and sauté until vegetables soften, about 6 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 2 minutes (do not allow flour to brown). Gradually whisk in reserved juices from clams. Add potato mixture, clams, half and half and hot pepper sauce. Simmer chowder 5 minutes to blend flavors, stirring frequently. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated. Bring to simmer before serving.
*It was a perfect soup for a rainy day and it was raining…perfect! I made a whole batch thinking I would have some leftovers, I did just a bowl just enough for my lunch to work. This is my second recipe for clam chowder, but this New England Chowder is a keeper and I see this dish many, many rainy days in our home. enJOY!!!