This might seem like a cheat's clam chowder recipe, but to make the chowder creamier (while using less cream), crushed saltine crackers and mashed potatoes do the trick. America's Test Kitchen's method is based on several 19th-century cookbooks.
Easy Clam Chowder
If you buy frozen clams, thaw them before using.
4 slices bacon, chopped fine
1 onion, chopped fine
3 (8 ounce) bottles clam juice
2 cups water
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
20 saltines, crushed
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 pounds chopped clams, rinsed, drained, and chopped fine
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper
1. Cook bacon in large saucepan over medium heat until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from saucepan. Add onion and cook over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in clam juice, water, potatoes, saltines, thyme, and bay leaf and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
2. Using slotted spoon, transfer ½ cup potatoes to bowl and mash with potato masher until smooth. Return mashed potatoes to pot. Reduce heat to low. Stir clams into pot and simmer until cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with bacon. Serve.
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