This here is the tastiest, fastest, easiest, most comforting clam chowder you may ever eat.
I start with Jasper White's legendary New England clam chowder recipe, but I use canned clams, a bottle of clam juice, and gnocchi instead of fresh clams, homemade clam juice, and potatoes. I'm sure the original, fully-handmade version is delicious, but who has the time? I also change up the technique so that this soup comes together in minutes, but tastes like it simmered for hours.
I also make this recipe using milk instead of cream because we NEVER have cream in the house. And when we do, I only need a tiny bit and then the rest goes bad because we don't use it. Instead, I use a little more butter when sauteing the aromatics to add richness.
Just a note, this chowder is a soup-y chowder. Some people like their chowder to have a thick gloopy consistency, but I prefer a slightly thinner soup. The gnocchi is soft, so you do get a hint of a thicker soup, but with more broth. Win-win, I think. If going gluten-free, either look for gluten-free gnocchi or swap in diced potatoes for the gnocchi and cook the soup until the potatoes are fork tender.
Gnocchi Clam chowder
2 6.5 oz cans of chopped clams (use brine to make up the 2 cups of clam juice)
2 cups (8 oz) bottled clam juice
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 large shallots
1 large clove garlic
1 large stalk celery
1 tsp dried thyme
1 cup milk
1 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 lb potato gnocchi (1 package)*
Open the cans of clams and drain the water into a measuring cup. Add more clam juice until you have two cups of liquid. Set aside the clams and the juice.
In a medium soup pot, melt the butter and sauté the shallots and celery until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Transfer the sautéed shallots, celery, garlic, and thyme to a blender or food processor. Add the milk and puree until smooth.
Return the milk puree to the large pan with the clam juice, water, thyme, and gnocchi. Bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes, or according to package directions.
Add the reserved clams and cook for 1 minute more.
Remove the bay leaf. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Yield: 53 oz, or about 6 cups
*If making ahead of time, make the soup liquid up to the point where you add the gnocchi and boil. Instead of adding the gnocchi, combine the liquids and canned clams, transfer to storage container, and chill for up to 2-3 days. When you want to eat, transfer the liquid back to a pot, bring to a boil, add the gnocchi, and cook for 3 minutes, or until gnocchi begins to float.