On National Clam Chowder Day, we reveal the one surprising ingredient that turns classic clam chowder into something incredibly special. Here's the best clam chowder recipe you'll ever make.

Clam Chowder
Here’s a classic New England-style seafood chowder recipe that doesn’t have you make fish stock from scratch. Dish up the thick, creamy results in heavy soup bowls. There’s bacon in every bite—and plenty of sweet littleneck clams to chew on. Get the recipe:Clam Chowder
| Credit: Hector Manuel Sanchez

Every good cook keeps a go-to recipe of clam chowder on hand, especially on National Clam Chowder Day (February 25). We love this classic Clam Chowder recipe not only because it’s stunning, but also because it has a secret hack that works like magic to really take it to a whole other level of richness.

Among a creamy bowl filled with tender potatoes, bacon, and littleneck clams is a little twist: dried shrimp. Instead of using seafood stock for the rich broth, the soup gets its depth from the dried shrimp instead. A bag of these crustaceans can be found in the international aisle at the supermarket or an Asian grocer. Shop for the bright orange ones as they’ll impart the freshest flavor.

To cook up the delectable salty broth on National Clam Chowder Day, or any other day you’re dreaming of a luscious clam chowder, boil milk, the dried shrimp, and bay leaves and let the flavors infuse off the heat for about 30 minutes. You’ll then strain the solids and keep the broth.

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You’ll be using this tip for years to come.