Peppery Clam Chowder with Bacon

My grandma makes amazing clam chowder. When I saw her recipe, I understood why—the ingredient list included a quart (946 ml) of half and half and more than a stick of butter. Planning a paleo version of this decadent soup had me reaching for some bacon as a flavor booster, but I was surprised when I created a creamy, peppery version that could stand on its own—without a bacon crutch (though a sprinkle of bacon is still nice). I was also surprised how well turnips fare in this soup. Certain little humans in our house thought they were potatoes, which you can also use if you prefer.

Prep time 30 minutes
Serves 8 to 10

6 slices uncooked thick-cut bacon
11/2 cups (240 g) minced onion (about 1 large onion)
11/2 cups (165 g) minced celery
2 pounds (905 g) turnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch (1 cm) pieces
2 6.5-ounce (184 g) cans chopped or minced clams, undrained
16 ounces (475 ml) clam juice
1/3 cup (43 g) tapioca flour
2 cups (475 ml) Simple Chicken Stock
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1 13.5-ounce (398 ml) can coconut milk, chilled

1 Cut the bacon into 1/2-inch (1 cm) strips and cook in a skillet over medium heat until you reach the desired crispness. Remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and set it aside for later. Drain all but 2 to 3 tablespoons (26 to 39 g) of the drippings.
2 Return the pan to medium-high heat and sauté the onion and celery, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Transfer the vegetables to a 6-quart (5.7 liter) slow cooker.
3 Add the turnips, clams, and clam juice to the slow cooker. Whisk tapioca flour into the chicken stock, removing any lumps, and pour it into the cooker. Stir in the salt and pepper.
4 Cover and cook on low for 4 to 41/2 hours, until the turnips are tender.
5 Add the thyme to the cooker. Open the coconut milk from the bottom and pour out the clear liquid (save it and add it to smoothies later) and spoon the coconut cream into the slow cooker. Stir until the coconut is incorporated into the soup.
6 Cover and cook for another 30 minutes.
7 Serve with bacon bits.