Thick, creamy and extremely tasty, this New England Clam Chowder is even better than restaurants. Loaded with tender potatoes, whole baby clams and bacon. Comes together quickly and with ease. One of the best soups around!
This post may contain affiliate links which I earn a small portion in sales if a purchase is made. Rest assured though, it is never at any additional cost to you.
As a native Southern Californian I love where I live. There are so many wonderful things about this part of the country from the gorgeous weather, all kinds of fresh locally grown produce and the big beautiful Pacific Ocean that I can drive to in 10 mins.
However, sometimes just getting away to a slower pace does my heart good. For my husband and I, that place is often Central California and/or the Northern part of the state. Where we head is usually cooler with big open spaces and hardly any crowds. The peace and quiet rejuvenates me every time.
Also, eating clam chowder at our favorite restaurants is always a highlight of our trips when we head north. I have for a long while now wanted to recreate the New England Clam Chowder that we have savored on our vacations. So, it was a no-brainer that when I found my Mom’s recipe that I give it a shot. I took the base of her recipe and tweaked it. The end result is an unbelievably irresistible and comforting Clam Chowder.
What is New England Clam Chowder?
Chowders are basically soups that have a thick consistency. New England Clam Chowder is a creamy white chowder that is chunky in part due to the clams and also potatoes. Additional ingredients that creamy Clam Chowder usually contains are bacon, celery and onion. However, this recipe is my version of New England Clam Chowder.
San Francisco Clam Chowder vs New England Style
It is important to note that there are variances to what is considered authentic New England Clam Chowder, even within New England itself. The same can be said for San Francisco Clam Chowder. However, in a nut shell the main difference is that San Francisco style is basically an identical chowder but is served in a sourdough bread bowl.
Main Steps To Making Clam Chowder
- Cut bacon into strips and then fry until crisp. Remove from pot but leave bacon grease.
- Cook onions and celery in bacon grease until sweated.
- Add cut potatoes, thyme, pepper, garlic, bay leaves, sherry, Worcestershire sauce and clam juice to celery and onions. Cook until potatoes are almost tender.
- Measure milk and cream. In a smaller bowl combine flour and a small amount of milk. Whisk until smooth adding more milk if necessary.
- Pour flour mixture into potato pan and then stir in rest of cream and milk. Cook until thick and bubbly.
- Stir in clam and bacon bits. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Note: Do not over cook clams as they will become tough and rubbery.
- Serve hot and garnish with fresh cut chives.
Best Canned Clams
Fresh shucked clams are always going to be amazing for homemade chowder. However, living in San Diego these are not readily available as is often the case for many cities across the country. The next best choice, canned Whole baby Clams. Have no worries if chopped clams are all that is available. Just make sure to use 3 6.5 oz cans and to only cook for 1 minute at the very end of cooking.
Best Potatoes for Chowders
Without a shadow of a doubt Yukon Gold Potatoes creates the most amazing textured Clam Chowder. This is because Yukon Golds have a creamier texture than russet potatoes, that are traditionally used in chowders. The second best option, red skinned potatoes because they also have a gorgeous creamy texture that just makes an amazing final product.
If there is one kitchen tool that will make life easier during the Winter months it is this Enameled Dutch Oven. It works beautifully for searing all kinds of meats, making spaghetti sauce and all kinds of soups and stews. Plus its durability along with its price point makes it an exceptional value. Also, having at least one really good quality chefs knife makes kitchen work 1,00 times easier. Chicago Cutlery is still my favorite knife brand and I am pretty sure you will love them too once you see the price.
What Goes With New England Clam Chowder?
The beauty of soups, stews and chowders is that they are one-pot meal where side dishes are not required. However, sometimes adding in a warm slice of Old Fashioned Cornbread or a Buttery Homemade Biscuit can be absolutely amazing. Also, sometimes the simplicity of oyster crackers just can’t be beat. If you are anything like me, eating plenty of veggies is incredibly important and because of this I love eating a garden salad with a little bit of feta and my all-time favorite Lemon Herbed Vinaigrette.
- 4 strips bacon *cut into pieces
- 1 lg onion *chopped, about 1 1/2 cups
- 2 lg celery stalks *chopped
- 4 cups diced Yukon Gold potatoes *about 8 small potatoes
- 3 cloves garlic *crushed or minced
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup sherry
- 1 8 oz bottle clam juice
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup half and half
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 2 10 oz cans whole baby clams
- fresh chopped chives *as a garnish
- Cut bacon strips into smaller pieces.
- Place an enamled dutch oven over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until crisp. Remove bacon from pan leaving bacon grease.
- Rasie heat to med/high and add chopped onions and celery. Cook until sweating.
- To onion mixture add cut potatoes, thyme, pepper, garlic, sherry, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce and clam juice. Cook until potatoes are almost tender.
- Measure milk and cream. In a smaller bowl combine flour and a small amount of the measured milk. Whisk until smooth adding more milk if necessary.
- Add flour mixture to dutch oven and then stir in rest of cream and milk. Cook until thick and bubbly, making sure the potatoes are tender.
- Stir in clam and bacon bits. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Be careful to not over cook clams as they will become tough and rubbery. Cook no longer than 2 minutes for whole baby clams and n more than 1 minute for chopped clams.
- For extra creamy clam chowder use half and half in place of milk (total of 3 cups).
- Garnish with fresh chopped chives or oyster crackers.