4 slices bacon, diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup vegetable stock
2 cans of chopped clams, juices reserved (~6.5 oz)
1 bay leaf
2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup half and half
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
Heat a large stockpot over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, reserving 1 tablespoon excess fat; set aside.
Melt infused butter in the stockpot. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk, vegetable stock, clam juice and bay leaf, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes.
Stir in potatoes. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 12-15 minutes.
Stir in half and half and clams until heated through, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste.*
Serve immediately, garnished with bacon and parsley, if desired. Enjoy!
Note: If the soup is too thick, add more half and half as needed until desired consistency is reached.