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This thick and creamy New England Clam Chowder is hearty, and will stick to your ribs! Perfect for cooler temperatures, and super easy to make.
Gorgeously thick and hearty, with a delicious creamy texture and served with some crusty bread, or some crackers. This easy clam chowder recipe is decadent, rich and thick.
It’s a simple blend of tender potatoes, onions and celery, combined with a creamy broth, clam meat and cooked bacon.
I made this for the first time one afternoon ready for when the husband walked in the door. I had to rush out and run an errand when he got home, and 5 minutes later I got a text saying “that bowl is mine, right?”.
Haha. It’s a good thing it was, because when I got back 20 minutes later, that bowl and half of the recipe that I stashed in the fridge was gone.
It was such a big hit, I’ve been making it ever since!
Need more delicious chowder? Check out my Corn Chowder!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- This is so easy to make. Just chop your veggies, simmer them in the juice you drain from the tender clams (I don’t live near the sea, fresh ones are out of the question for us), and make the creamy soup base. Combine it all together, and top with bacon.
- I MEAN, BACON, people! The smoky flavor of it amps up the flavor of this chowder, I promise.
Frequently Asked Questions
This soup actually freezes better than I would expect from a cream soup. If you plan to freeze yours, do a little first, and test it a week or so later, and ensure that it still tastes good to you. It works great for us, and I’ve heard no complaints – but everyone is different!
It’s all about that base, ’bout that base… no. Oh. Sorry. New England style is thick, creamy and white. Manhattan is made from a tomato and clear broth base.
What to serve with Clam Chowder
The full list of ingredients and quantities is found in the printable recipe card below.
- Clams. You can vary the amount of clams to your tastes. Either fresh clams or canned clams works. whatever you have available to you!
If using cans of clams, you will need to keep the juice when you drain them and maybe grab some bottled clam juice.
If you can’t find clam juice at your grocery store, no worries. You’ll just need to use enough water or stock to cover the veggies as they cook.
- Onion & Celery
- Potatoes. These form the flavor and base of the chowder. I use Russet potatoes.
- Butter. I use salted butter.
- Flour. Plain all-purpose flour.
- Half & Half. Half and half is just a blend of milk and heavy cream. You can easily use milk in this instance.
- Salt & Pepper. I use kosher salt and black pepper.
- Bacon. Cooked and crumbled. Some recipes use salt pork, but I have bacon available to me, so that is what I use. Cook then drain the crispy bacon on paper towels.
How to make Clam Chowder (step by step)
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The full list of ingredients, quantities and instructions can be found in the printable recipe card below.
Drain clams, reserving the clam juice. Peel the potatoes, chop the onions and celery. Cook the bacon, drain on paper towels.
Cook the vegetables
In a large pot or Dutch oven, add onions, celery and potatoes, and the clam juice – add a bit of water or chicken broth if you have to, to cover them. Heat over medium-high heat – bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer while you complete the creamy mixture (next).
Make the cream base
In another pot – over medium heat – melt butter then whisk in the flour, salt and pepper. Let cook for 20 seconds.
Add the milk to the butter and flour, stirring constantly so there are no lumps.
Add the cream base into the veggies and broth
Add the milk and flour/butter mixture to the vegetables and broth.
Add the chopped clams, simmer for 10 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
Garnish and devour
Sprinkle bacon and extra green onions (scallions) on top.
If serving as a first course, serve each person a small bowl. If the chowder is the main course, give everyone a large bowl!
Add 1-2 bay leaves while simmering – for a lovely savory flavor. Remove bay leaf at Step 5.
Fresh thyme is a great addition to this recipe.
What to do with leftovers
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat until it is piping hot!
To freeze: Cool completely, mix in the bacon. Freeze.
To reheat: Thaw and heat gently in the microwave or saucepan.
Love soup recipes? Here are some of my favorites:
- Broccoli Cheddar Soup – perfect for feeding the family, and your soul! Enjoy this delicious, rich and flavorful version of a classic.
- Lentil Soup – great as a starter to a main, or as a main itself, this nutritious soup sticks to your ribs and satisfies!
- Butternut Squash Soup (with apple) – my all-time favorite soup, it’s healthy AND low-fat!
- Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup – hearty and warming with just the right amount of spice, blended with cheese, topped off with jalapenos, cilantro, and crispy tortilla strips.
- Avgolemono Soup (from Country Living)
- ALL SOUP RECIPES
Thick and Creamy New England Clam Chowder
- Drain the clams, reserving the clam juice.
- In a large saucepan or dutch oven, add onions, celery and potatoes, and the clam juice – add a bit of water or chicken broth if you have to, to cover them. Heat over medium-high heat – bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer while you complete the creamy mixture (next).
- In another pot – over medium heat – melt the butter then whisk in the flour until smooth. Let cook for 20 seconds, season with salt and pepper.
- Add the half and half to the butter and flour, stirring constantly so there are no lumps.
- Add the half and half mixture to the vegetables and broth.
- Add the chopped clams, simmer for 10 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
- Sprinkle bacon and extra green onions (scallions) on top.
Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.
Update: This was originally posted in 2016, and has been updated to improve reader experience.