n a large soup pot over medium heat, saute bacon until crisp and golden brown. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon; drain bacon on paper towels (drain off the bacon fat from the soup pot). Set bacon aside. I do not add the bacon fat back to my clam chowder, but it is your choice!
Reduce heat to low and add butter and stir until melted. Add onions and cook until they are translucent and soft (about 10 to 15 minutes). Sauteing the onions in the butter is important to achieve the excellent taste. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. Add flour, salt, and pepper, stirring constantly until well blended. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly until sauce comes to a boil and thickens.
Making a large quantity of clam chowder:
Since I usually make a large pot (sometimes a couple of pots) of clam chowder for my family, I make a Roux with flour and butter for thickening the chowder to my liking:
First use some of the butter to saute the onions.
Then using equal parts of butter and flour, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk the flour and butter together. Cook, stirring, it until the flour/butter mixture are well blended and starts to lose its raw flour smell. NOTE: A good guideline is to use 1 tablespoon of flour for every 2 cups of liquid you have, but adjust to your taste.
Slowly add the milk to the roux, stirring constantly to blend well.
My family likes a thinly-thickened chowder, but thicken to your liking.
Add the cut-up potatoes and simmer approximately 10 to 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Add the cooked bacon, clams and clam liquid; simmer until thoroughly heated. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.
Serve in large soup bowls. I sometimes like to add a dollop of butter on top of each bowl of clam chowder (your choice).
Serve with crackers or bread.
Our family likes to serve this clam chowder with Never-Fail Popovers.
Makes 8 servings.