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Classic New England Clam Chowder

3.51 avg. rating (70% score) - 199 votes

Classic New England Clam Chowder

If salt pork, potatoes, and onions define traditional New England clam chowder, then this one is a classic, save for the use of bacon instead of salt pork. There’s always a pot simmering at this shingled shack on Chatham Pier, ready to ladle into pints and quarts. While purists might protest the roux (a mixture of butter and flour) used as a thickener, this not-too-thick, not-too-thin creamy-briny chowder — full of fresh chopped clams, potatoes, bacon, and a hint of thyme — will win them over. Chowder master Doug Ricciardi’s secret? Keep it “old school” by using white pepper. Nothing fancy but mighty fine, especially eaten at the nearby picnic tables on a sunny day with a view of the water and seals swimming by.

SEE MORE:
How to Make Classic New England Clam Chowder
Clear Broth Clam Chowder | Rhode Island
75 Classic New England Foods

Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Hands-On Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 strips thick-cut bacon
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 rib celery, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 medium-size white potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups bottled clam juice, divided
  • 1 pound chopped fresh clam meat, with juices (see Note)
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 3 cups light cream
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper

Instructions

Set a 4- to 6-quart pot over medium-low heat. Add the bacon and cook, turning occasionally, until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the bacon, leaving the fat in the pot, and crumble into small pieces; set aside.

Add the butter, onion, celery, thyme, and bay leaves to the pot. Cook, stirring often, until onions are tender and translucent, 6 to 8 minutes.

Return the bacon to the pot and stir. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the potatoes.

In a 2- to 3-quart pot on high heat, boil the diced potatoes in salted water until tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Turning back to the onion/bacon mixture, increase the heat to medium-low.

Add the flour gradually, stirring continuously, until a thick paste forms. Stir and cook 5 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium and slowly add the bottled clam juice, 1 cup at a time, incorporating it into the mixture before adding more.

Increase the heat to medium-high and add the potatoes and clam meat with its juices. Keep stirring 5 minutes, until the clams are tender.

Add the cream slowly; then stir in the white pepper.

Discard the bay leaves before serving. Serve hot.

Additional Notes:

Many supermarkets carry frozen, chopped clam meat in 1-pound containers, which is fresher than canned and just as convenient. Simply defrost before using.

Comments
  • I made this exactly as the recipe calls.. ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS! Am getting ready to visit Bostin (am in Pine, Arizona)…so will do some comparison tasting while there! Believe me….it is H A R D to get a really great clam chowder in Arizona! …but our prickly pear cactus jelly is outstanding! ????????

    Reply
  • Real NE Clam Chowder would have only used the starch from the potatoes for the thickener, not flour and no herbs. If I had to guess how it was cooked, heat up salt pork or some lard to cook the onions in, dice up potatoes and cook with enough water so when they’re done you have the correct amount of liquid for the soup, add the cooked onions and fat, throw in whole clams and cook until they open and salt to taste. Serve the soup just like that and it will be as authentic as you can get.

    Reply
  • I am so enamored of of true New England clam chowder that I make it a point when going back ot my 网投平台大全 state of NJ for a visit (I have live in TX the last 30 years), I buy about 5 or 6 dozen fresh quahogs and after steaming some of them to eat with freinds and family, I shuck the rest with the juice and freeze to take 网投平台大全 to make a pot of soup. I learned not to take them as a carry on. One year my plane was delayed in leaving and I went back outside for a bit and the juice had melted. When I came back though security, the TSA tossed my carefully prepared bag of clams due to the liquid content. I don’t think you have ever seen a person as mad as I was..Live and learn.

    Reply
  • Ellieziegler@sbcglobal.net

    As a born & raised Connecticut Yankee now living in Texas, I really enjoy Yankee Magazine and especially enjoy the recipes. But what I enjoy even more is reading the comments at the end of recipes. They’re a hoot! Thanks!

    Reply
  • If you don’t feel like making this and spending more money, especially you on the West Coast, there is always Legal Seafoods. Go online and do some research. They ship as close to when you want it to stay as fresh as possible. We’ve given many quarts as gifts this time of the year. Say what you will, but you won’t be dissapointed in the taste.

    Reply
  • richardj2

    From a Texan who has spent about a month each year for the last 10 years traveling all over the Northeast, there are hundreds or even thousands of clam chowder recipes in that area and every one of them is “Classic New England Clam Chowdah”. That is the best part, you just can’t go wrong, because there is something good about all of them!

    Reply
  • I made this chowder last weekend…it is GONE! Shared it with friends. Followed the recipe except that I used 2 bacon strips, not 3 and did add a tad of Old Bay and a bit of Adobo. More salt Too. In AZ not too many clams around here so used canned and IT WAS FABULOUS! Thicker when reheated but outstanding. Had clam chowder on east coast, on west coast and this is the BEST!

    Reply
  • Another favorite from Cape Ann is Clish chowder where you add white flaky fish ( scrod) a few minutes before finish to keep the texture.

    Reply
  • I’m from down east in Canada. We always made New England Clam Chowder without the flour and the herbs (I’m sure it tastes good with all of those ingredients) & used pork fat as well. I have cook books from New England & the recipes don’t call for flour & the herbs. I LOVE the true Clam Chowder!! Hard to find fresh clams inland, have to buy canned. Still make it though. Miss the quohogs though!!

    Reply
  • This is not a “Classic” New England Clam Chowder by any stretch of the imagination, though it may be tasty!

    Reply
  • Forget the thyme! I have used Old Bay seasoning as long as I can remember! Now that’s Massachusetts clam chowder! Born and raised in Boston area.

    Reply
  • Thank you for sharing this. Looks like the real deal. Veg/corn chowder is a great alternative for vegetarians, but I don’t know if you can make a truly good vegan chowder….

    Reply
  • used to drive to killington ski resort from Chicago when we lived there. best sea food we ever had was in the new England area. still looking for a recipe for a seafood cheese dish we had in Portland new hamshire. best seafood dishes we ever had.

    Reply
  • Jean July 17, 2017

    I live in Henderson, NV, but I was born in Haydenville, MA in 1928. My heart is and always will be in New England. By the way, I love New England clem chowder and make it quite often. Jean Eichorn
    HI jean. I live in Henderson also. love this magazine and the recipes

    Reply
    • Jean, I hope you see this response because your message stopped me in my reading! I was born and raised in Boston. My husband and I drove from our 网投平台大全 in the Berkshires of MA to Henderson NV this past Spring to watch the migration of the Sandhill Cranes, an unforgettable experience. AND I also lived in the tiny village of Haydenville MA for several years before my first husband passed away. I’ll bet not many people can claim that coincidence!!! ; ) And we both LOVE clam chowder… time to make some!

      Reply
      • Oops, we went to Henderson Nebraska… not Nevada! Oh well, Haydenville is still a great coincidence! ; )

        Reply
  • If you have trouble finding frozen clam meat, find a local oriental market. Lots of seafood, inc frozen baby clam meat and tempura shrimp! (Use your air fryer for the shrimp…restaurant quality, half the fat!)

    Reply
  • I made this tonight and it was the best clam chowder that I have ever eaten. My family loved it. I don’t understand all the critics that make negative comments on recipes that have great reviews. If you have a better recipe then please post it and if it gets a bunch of good reviews than people will try it. Bashing other people’s recipes is not polite nor is it helpful to anyone.

    Reply
  • The”chowdahs” that are very thick are usually referred to as a “bisque”

    Reply
  • Darren

    Amazing! Enjoy the leisurely process of making this authentic recipe.

    Reply
  • Suzanne

    “Real” chowder or chowdah does not have thyme, bay leaf or celery. Potatoes, onions, salt pork,( okay, maybe bacon) clams, evaporated milk, butter, that’s about it.

    Reply
    • my mother always made it with salt pork rendered, onions, pot. take pork out when crisp after cooking onions till soft add water to cover cook 10 min. add haddock cook for 6 – 8 min. add milk when done simmer slow for 15 min. you can make it thicker by adding a flour slirrey. enjoy.

      Reply
      • ireneh12

        Agreed. Salt pork is also used in the Rhode Island brothy-style chowder. It gives a more delicate fat flavor, to accentuate the sweetness of the clams.

        Reply
  • JACQUELINE

    How do I print out the Kale salad recipe. I love the food from New England.

    Reply
  • Bacon? Celery? Thyme leaves? Bay leaves? Flour? None of that is ‘traditional’. This is clam chowder of a sort, but certainly NOT traditional! Not if you are from Gloucester, Massachusetts, anyway. I did have chowder like that in the 1970’s and 80’s in California, though. Tasted good enough, but not great. And
    NOT traditional!

    Reply
    • Sarah

      Oh yes… I know people have done variations. But that is not the same All I can get here in VA is chowder like this and it drives me up a wall. People look like I am insane when I ask them to at least take out the bacon.. I can deal with the rest.

      Reply
    • I agree except for the bacon. Use bacon drippings if you don’t have/use salt pork.

      Reply
      • As a born-and-dyed-in-the-wool Rhode Islander, I like chowder variations, including the Massachusetts ones (however, I abhor the Manhattan), but much prefer “natural” chowder, i.e., no milk, cream, or tomatoes. Also, my grandma, may she rest in peace, insisted that salt pork is absolutely necessary for the chowder to taste right; and I’ve never known Grandma to be wrong. I live in Maryland now, and you just can’t get the authentic article here.

        Reply
  • Leave out the flour and you get a much more flavorful chowder. Try substituting evaporated milk for cream and more clam juice. Much richer taste. I also cook my potatoes in clam juice. Most restaurant chowders are way too thick

    Reply
    • thin clam chowder has much more flavor. NO FLOUR!!! I also new a restaurant in South lynnfield mass years ago that made their clam chowder with Whole Clams, talk about great chowder!!!!!

      Reply
  • Miss my Maine Clam Chowder, but make it here in CA. when I can get fresh clams!!!!

    Reply
  • Can you by any chance get the original Pewter Pot muffin House clam chowder recipe that I SO enjoyed at least once a week at their location in Harvard Swuare in the late 60’s and into the 70’s until we moved to D.C area?? It was the very best.. so we’re all their muffins particularly the almond poppy seed one!! Missing New England…

    Reply
    • My family used to eat at the Pewter Pot all the time, but their chowder was not really traditional, it was more the kind that was so thick a spoon would stand straight up in it!

      Reply
  • I love your recipies but would also appreciate having nutritional info printed at the end of each for those of us needing to count carbs and sugar.

    Reply
  • Seems to me the “original” chowder was clear broth…….no cream, flour or milk.

    Reply
    • Beckie

      If you leave out the cream, it can be frozen. i make “chowder base” with a similar recipe minus the flour and it freezes beautifully. just add cream when you re-heat.

      Reply
  • I live in Henderson, NV, but I was born in Haydenville, MA in 1928. My heart is and always will be in New England. By the way, I love New England clem chowder and make it quite often. Jean Eichorn

    Reply
  • Cathey

    We love clam chowder in this family,always canned.I’m going to try this recipe,I just hope I can find frozen clams if not I’ll use canned.Love this web site

    Reply
  • Lorraine

    New England Clam Chowdah delicious, but so is a great Manhattan Chowdah like my mom from Brooklyn NY made. Clams dug in the morning from Barnegat Bay in Jersey into the pot for dinner that evening. Miss you mom and the Chowdah

    Reply
  • My favourite chowders use a roux. For me, that is one of the traditional ways of making this acrimony dish. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  • Not sure why we need so much flour? I find so many chowders way too thick, I make a very similar corn chowder with no flour and everyone loves it.

    Reply
  • RE: Patricia; April 23, 2015…. As it should be & I pray it stays on the books forever!

    Reply
  • I was born and brought up in Mass. so love to visit this site and reminise the places I used to visit as a child

    Reply
  • I live in California but visited all of the New England states with a tour group last fall. Absolutely fell in love with the beauty, charm, and history of the area. So—-I truly enjoy this website which enables me to keep in touch with New England in my mind and heart!!! Thank you!!!!!!

    Reply
  • Patricia

    Back in the 1800’s Maine was so incensed over NY tourists adding tomatoes to their Clam Chowdah that they passed legislation making it illegal to mix tomatoes and clams in the same dish. I believe this law is still on the books in Maine.

    Reply

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