New England Clam Chowder

Joined Jan 9, 2002
Does anyone have a really good recipe for New England Clam Chowder they'd be willing to share? I got really spoiled living in Monterey- the clam chowder you could buy at the fisherman's wharf was out of this world! And the canned stuff doesn't even come close. I'm a bit nervous about making my own- but I'm willing to try with a recipe that has a good recommendation behind it. :)


Joined Apr 4, 2000
Start with this:


18 small hard-shelled clams, such as littlenecks (less than 2 inches in diameter)
3/4 cup cold water
1 bacon slice
1/2 small onion
1 medium boiling potato
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon packed chopped fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves

Scrub clams well and put in a saucepan with water. Steam clams, covered, over moderately high heat 5 to 8 minutes, checking them every minute after 5 minutes and transferring them with tongs as they open to a bowl. Discard any clams that are unopened after 8 minutes and reserve cooking liquid. When clams are cool enough to handle, remove from shells and coarsely chop. Carefully pour reserved cooking liquid through a fine sieve into a small bowl, leaving any grit in pan.

Separately chop bacon and onion. Peel potato and cut into 1/4-inch dice. In cleaned pan cook bacon in butter over moderate heat, stirring, until golden. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened. Stir in potatoes and cooking liquid. Simmer mixture, covered, until potatoes are tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in clams, half-and-half, and pepper to taste and cook until heated through, about 1 minute (do not let boil). Stir in parsley.

Serves 2.


8 bacon slices, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
4 8-ounce bottles clam juice
4 cups 1/2-inch dice peeled white potatoes (about 3 pounds)
4 cups 1/2-inch dice peeled butternut squash (about 3 pounds)
2 bay leaves
4 cups chopped kale leaves
5 cups milk
1 cup half and half
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried, crumbled
3 pounds mixed fresh fish (a choice of cod, halibut, haddock and/or
scrod), cut into 3/4-inch pieces

To render fat, cook chopped bacon in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat 5 minutes. Add chopped onions and sauté until onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Mix in bottled clam juice, diced potatoes, diced butternut squash and bay leaves. Simmer 5 minutes. Add chopped kale leaves and simmer until vegetables are almost tender, about 10 minutes. Add 5 cups milk, 1 cup half and half and minced thyme. (Chowder can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover tightly and refrigerate.)

Bring chowder to simmer. Add fish and simmer until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Discard bay leaves. Ladle chowder into bowls and serve.

Serves 8.


3 8-ounce bottles clam juice
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
3 slices bacon, finely chopped
2 cups chopped onions
1 1/4 cups chopped celery with leaves (about 2 large stalks)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup all purpose flour
6 6 1/2-ounce cans chopped clams, drained, juices reserved
1 1/4 cups half and half
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Bring bottled clam juice and potatoes to boil in heavy large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until bacon begins to brown, about 8 minutes. Add onions, celery, garlic and bay leaf and sauté until vegetables soften, about 6 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 2 minutes (do not allow flour to brown). Gradually whisk in reserved juices from clams. Add potato mixture, clams, half and half and hot pepper sauce. Simmer chowder 5 minutes to blend flavors, stirring frequently. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated. Bring to simmer before serving.)

Makes 8 (first-course) or 4 (main-course) servings.

Skipjack’s, Boston, MA
Joined Jan 8, 2002
That last recipe by Isa is pretty close to what I generally use, although I prefer to leave out the bacon (little too much grease for me) and no hot pepper. But to cap it all off, I make some sourdough bowls and ladle the soup into them. If you don't have the patience for making them from scratch, grocery stores usually carry a prepared mix. Of these, I'll let the mix rise for the first pass, then split the dough into thirds, shape them into balls and let them rise again for another 20 mins or so. Bake them while your soup is started and by the time they finish, soup should be ready. Cut a lid off the bowls and hollow them out, saving the innards for dipping. Jeez this stuff is good!
Joined Jul 31, 2000
Funny,But True!!!

About 21 years ago I was the Sous chef for a country club in CT.

Everyday I had to make the Chowder, Well at that time my soon to be Sister in law was working the pantry. Her sister used to come and visit her on occasion at the club. Well one day this woman tasted my chowder, She went crazy for it and said it was by far the best she has ever had. (she had been to all the New england states as well as spending her summers on the Cape)
So this made me feel pretty darn good about my chowder.
Well, One week later she asked me out on a date, and I accepted.
We have been together ever since,got married in 86 and have two wonderful Daughters :) all because of my New England clam chowder:lips:
Joined Jan 9, 2002
That's great. :) Something similar happened to me because of my tasty rhubarb pie...
Joined Jan 9, 2002
Thank you for the recipes! The first one sounds the most like what I'm looking for- especially as it calls for fresh clams, not canned. I try to use fresh ingredients whenever possible (although, living in Texas, I may have to end up using canned clams, as I'm not sure about the quality of any "fresh" clams I will find here!!):eek:
Joined Apr 19, 2001
When I make chowder, I let the potatoes thicken the chowder a bit, rather than using a roux/flour base for thickening; I think the flour makes it too thick and pastey. Also, when you serve the chowder, try putting a pat of butter and a little black pepper on top for garnish - looks great, and the melting butter gives a nice mouth-feel.
Joined Jul 28, 2001
Pretty much any kind of clam here in Big D. Where are ya? Maybe I can direct you to a purveyor.
Joined Jul 15, 2001
I like to start with minced salt pork which I render to get the fat to soften the vegetables in. I open the clams by cooking in a little white wine, then save the wine+ the broth from the clams to use in the soup. (Decant it as there will probably be some sand in the bottom). I also toss in a pinch each of marjoram and thyme. Could be my imagination, but I think it adds a bit of depth.


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
I know that this is a southern thing,but I find that it helps to boost the flavor of my chowder. I use a small pinch of Old Bay Seasoning. I do use a small amount of roux for my chowder, as I like a slightly thicker soup, but the key to using a roux is to make sure you cook out all the flour after adding it. That means that after bringing your soup to boil to thicken, you need to simmer for a minimum of 30-45 minutes to cook out all the starch. It is only at this point that I then add my potatoes, and after they are done, add the clams back in along with the rendered bacon.

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