When you live out in the very rural mountains of New Mexico, you don't just run down to the local fishmonger for fresh seafood. Sure, once in awhile you get to the big city and can pick up some (somewhat) fresh seafood for a special meal. But what do you do when you want something on the spur of the moment? Well, you keep a larder full of all sorts of canned and bottled stuff that you can use and, with a little patience and practice, you can come up with a really good meal.
Case in point? This wonderful clam chowdah is made with...(don't throw things, now!) Canned clams! And it's just GREAT!
In a large stock pot over medium high heat, cook the diced bacon until almost crisp. Add the onions and cook 5 minutes. Stir in the clam juice, chicken broth (or water), and potatoes, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and cook uncovered for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender.
Remove about 3 cups of the potatoes to a medium mixing bowl and add 1 1/2 cups of the half and half. Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture until smooth. (This can also be done in a blender or food processor.) Return the mixture to the pot.
Pour in the remaining 1 1/2 cups of half-and-half, and add the butter and cayenne pepper. Stir in the drained chopped clams and baby clams. If the soup needs to be thinned, do so by adding some of the reserved clam liquid. If the soup needs to be thickened, mix a couple Tablespoons of cornstarch with 1/4 cup of the reserved clam liquid, stir it in and bring the soup just barely to a simmer before turning the heat down again. Cook for about 5 minutes to make sure everything is heated through. Do not allow to the chowder to come to a full boil.