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    New England Clam Chowder Recipe

    Published November 28, 2022. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

    This creamy, hearty classic New England Clam Chowder recipe is served with fresh vegetables and steamed clams for the perfect seafood soup. Clam chowder is still one of my favorite soups of all time.

    I am such a huge soup fan; Afterall, I used to call it my first love. If you’re unsure how to make soup flavorful, I go into detail on just about every recipe I have to show you how to do that. Definitely try my Cream of Mushroom Soup or Beef and Barley.

    bowl of clam chowder

    Clam Chowder

    Clam chowder is a thick, chunky soup with clams. It gets its name from the French word chaudiére, describing fishermen who made their stews fresh from the sea. This tells me that whatever was in abundance and cheap is what was used.

    While there are many kinds of chowders, New England clam chowder specifically is a milk or cream-based soup. You will see some slight variations in the upper northeast region of the United States, depending on who is making it.

    Ingredients You’ll Need

    • Bacon – Use thick-cut bacon slices that are then roughly chopped.
    • Vegetables – I like the classic combination of onions, celery, and garlic.
    • Potatoes – The classic potato are russets, but I like to combine russet and red potatoes.
    • Wine – Cream sherry is used in the soup, while dry white wine is used in steaming fresh clams.
    • Stock – You will use a combination of chicken stock and clam stock in this.
    • Clams – Canned chopped clams in juice, as well as fresh little-neck clams, are used.
    • Cream – Heavy whipping cream is used to finish off the soup.
    • Herbs – I like to use fresh thyme and bay leaves in the soup. I garnish the steamed clams with parsley
    • Butter – Use unsalted butter to finish off the steamed fresh clams.

    How to Make Clam Chowder

    In a very large pot over medium heat, add the chopped bacon and cook until browned and crispy.

    cooking thick-cut bacon in a pan

    Once brown, remove the bacon and about ½ cup of the bacon fat. Keep the ½ cup of fat separate from the bacon lardons.

    removing cooked bacon

    Add in the onions, garlic, and celery and sweat for 5 to 6 minutes or until slightly tender.

    sautéing vegetables in bacon fat.

    Stir in the flour until combined to make a roux.

    making a roux with cooked vegetables and bacon fat

    Next, pour in the sherry, clams, clam stock, chicken stock, and bay leaves and bring to a boil or until thick.

    adding clam stock to clam chowder

    Once thick, add in the potatoes, thyme, cream, ½ of the cooked bacon, salt, and pepper. and simmer over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Keep warm.

    seasoning a clam chowder

    How to Serve It

    I prefer to serve the clam chowder with fresh steamed clams. Here is how you do it:

    • Add oil to a medium size sauté pan over high heat and add in the clams and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Flames may appear as there will be water leaking out from the clams into the oil – turn down the heat if this happens.
    sautéing fresh clams in a pan
    • Add in the wine, garlic, and thyme and cover, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes on high heat or until the clams open.
    adding wine to clams in a pan
    • Finish the clams with butter, parsley, salt, and red pepper flakes.
    steamed clams in a pan
    • Pour a bowl of chowder and garnish with cooked clams, fresh thyme leaves, chopped parsley, cooked bacon, oyster crackers, and red pepper flakes.
    garnishing a bowl of a clam chowder

    Different Types of Clam Chowder

    • New England – This is the most popular and cream-based version.
    • Rhode Island – Following the same procedure as the New England style, except no cream is added.
    • Manhattan – This is tomato-based and does not use cream. In addition, you will see carrots added to it.
    • Long Island – A combination of New England and Manhattan, giving it a pinkish color.

    Make-Ahead and Storage

    Make-Ahead: This soup is meant to be eaten right away, but you can make it up to 1 day ahead of time. Be sure the cream has not broken from the soup before serving.

    How to Reheat: Add the desired amount to a small pot and cook over low heat while whisking until warm. You can also heat it in a microwave until warm.

    How to Store: Cover and keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Cover and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for 1 day before reheating and serving.

    Chef Billy Parisi

    Chef Notes + Tips

    • If you do not plan to serve this soup immediately, do not add the clams until 10 minutes before serving.
    • If the cream breaks and the cream separates from the soup, whisk in a small amount of roux over medium heat in a pot to help bring it back together.  The same heat and whisking rules apply when working with a roux.
    • White wine options are chardonnay, pinot grigio, or sauvignon blanc.
    • This makes a very large soup, so feel free to cut the number of ingredients in half.

    More Soup Recipes

    Let's Cook - Chef Billy Parisi

    Video

    New England Clam Chowder Recipe

    5 from 3 votes
    This creamy, hearty classic New England Clam Chowder recipe is served with fresh vegetables and steamed clams for the perfect seafood soup.
    Servings: 20
    Prep Time: 45 minutes
    Cook Time: 1 hour
    Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

    Ingredients 

    For the Chowder:

    • 1 pound of sliced thick-cut bacon
    • 2 peeled and small diced yellow onions
    • 4 finely minced cloves of garlic
    • 1 bunch of medium diced celery
    • 1 ¼ cups to 1 ½ cups of flour
    • ½ cup of cream sherry
    • 8 cups clam stock
    • 8 cups chicken stock
    • 40 ounces of chopped clams in juice
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 2 pounds medium diced red potatoes
    • 2 pounds medium diced red russet potatoes
    • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh thyme
    • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
    • sea salt, ground white pepper, Worcestershire, and Tabasco sauce to taste

    For the Clams:

    • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
    • 15 little-neck clams
    • 1 cup of chardonnay wine
    • 4 finely minced cloves of garlic
    • 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme
    • 2 ounces of unsalted butter
    • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley
    • Kosher salt and red pepper flakes to taste

    Instructions

    • In a very large pot over medium heat, add the chopped bacon and cook until browned and crispy.
    • Once brown remove the bacon and about a ½ cup of the bacon fat. Keep the ½ cup of fat separate from the bacon lardons.
    • Add in the onions, garlic and celery and sweat for 5 to 6 minutes or until slightly tender.
    • Stir in the flour until combined to make a roux.
    • Next pour in the sherry, clams, clam stock, chicken stock, and bay leaves and bring to a boil or until thick.
    • Once thick, add in the potatoes, thyme, cream, ½ of the cooked bacon, salt, and pepper. and simmer over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Keep warm.
    • Add oil to a medium size sauté pan over high heat and add in the clams and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Flames may appear as there will be water leaking out from the clams into the oil – turn down the heat if this happens.
    • Add in the wine, garlic and thyme and cover and cook for 3 to 5 minutes on high heat or until the clams open.
    • Finish the clams with butter, parsley, salt, and red pepper flakes.
    • Pour a bowl of chowder and garnish with cooked clams, fresh thyme leaves, chopped parsley, cooked bacon, oyster crackers, and red pepper flakes.

    Notes

    Make-Ahead: This soup is meant to be eaten right away, but you can make it up to 1 day ahead of time. Be sure the cream has not broken from the soup before serving.
    How to Reheat: Add the desired amount to a small pot and cook over low heat while whisking until warm. You can also heat it in a microwave until warm.
    How to Store: Cover and keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Cover and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for 1 day before reheating and serving.
    If you do not plan to serve this soup immediately, do not add the clams until 10 minutes before serving.
    If the cream breaks and the cream separates from the soup, whisk in a small amount of roux over medium heat in a pot to help bring it back together.  The same heat and whisking rules apply when working with a roux.
    White wine options are chardonnay, pinot grigio, or sauvignon blanc.
    This makes a very large soup, so feel free to cut the number of ingredients in half.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 328kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 9gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 59mgSodium: 375mgPotassium: 412mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 543IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 41mgIron: 1mg
    Course: Soup
    Cuisine: American, english
    Author: Chef Billy Parisi