New England clam chowder is a rich and creamy soup filled with diced potatoes and tender clams. This is an easy clam chowder recipe for beginning cooks. Find out how to make this FIVE STAR clam chowder in 30 minutes.
If you come from the east coast like I do then you know how critically important finding a stellar New England Clam Chowder can be. You can’t go to a seafood restaurant anywhere without it being a staple on the menu.
And as many restaurants there are, there are the same amount of variations of this famous chowder.
New England Clam Chowder is different than Manhattan Clam Chowder. New England is a thickened chowder made with clams, potatoes, onions and cream.
Manhattan Chowder is made with crushed and diced tomatoes and is not thickened.
The recipe often varies from state to state as well as the type of clams used. Finding a great bowl of chowder is almost as important as what pizza place you go to.
All summer long you will see fishing boats out on the water, before the sun rises, looking for what’s called the quintessential quahogs clams. They are graded by size with littlenecks being the smallest.
What makes a great clam chowder?
- Tender potatoes (russets have the highest starch content and will help thicken the soup)
- A nice thick chowder that isn’t like sludge and most importantly,
- Clams that are not rubbery
Clam chowder is a very simple soup yet it still requires certain components to make it work.
- The potatoes should be cut very small (the size of the clams) and cooked until they still have some structure to them. If they are cooked too long they just fall apart.
- Our chowder is NOT using real clams, however it is still possible to overcook them and they become rubbery. They just need to be warmed through.
This recipe, along with my Incredible Crab Bisque are among my families favorites, both of which come from canned seafood.
Top this thick and creamy soup with a handful of oyster crackers or if you want to go the extra mile, try making homemade buttery garlic croutons to top it off!Print
A true New England Clam Chowder recipe … not-too-thick, not-too-thin, creamy, and is full of chopped clams, potatoes, a hint of thyme, broth and cream!
- 4 Strips No Nitrate Bacon
- 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
- 2 Stalks Celery, diced very small
- ½ Cup Onion, diced very small
- 1 Clove Garlic, minced
- 3 Tbsp Flour
- 2 Cups Potatoes, diced in small cubes (Russet)
- 2 –10 oz. Cans of Clams (drain the juice and reserve for soup)
- ½ Cup Chicken Broth
- 2 Cups Cream (either all half and half or 1 cup whole milk and 1 cup heavy cream)
- 3 Drop Tabasco Sauce
- ¼ tsp White Pepper
- ¼ tsp Thyme
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 tsp Sea Salt
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Optional – oyster crackers
- Cook the bacon in a large saucepan or stockpot until cooked. Remove the bacon, drain the grease but don’t wipe clean. Crumble the bacon and set aside.
- Add 2 Tablespoons of butter to the pan, then the onions and celery. Season with salt and pepper and cook approximately 4 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook a minute more.
- Sprinkle the flour through out the pan and stir to combine.
- Add ¼ of the chicken broth, whisking to create a roux. Slowly, add the rest along with the clam juice (without the clams), Tabasco, white pepper, thyme and bay leaf. Give it a good stir and bring the soup to a boil.
- Add the potatoes and reduce the heat to low. The starch from the potatoes and flour will continue to thicken the soup, approx. 15-20 min. Be sure to check so the potatoes do not overcook.
- Add the clams, crumbled bacon and cream (or half and half).
- Heat the chowder through but DO NOT let it come to a boil. The soup should be nice and thick by now. If it is too thick, just add more stock or milk.
You do not have to drain the bacon grease before adding the butter and onions. However, wiping the pan clean will result in a cleaner clam taste.