New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder

I don’t really care for fried clams, but have always loved clam chowder. Go figure. As I have made fish chowder many times , I thought I would give Clam Chowder a try.

I love to try recipes that take me out of my comfort zone. Sometimes they turn pout good, sometimes not. As an example I have never cooked a clam, but wanted to get the fresh clam juice that gives chowder that fresh flavor. It definitely made a difference in this recipe.

The first time I made clam chowder, I used bottled clam juice and frozen fresh packed clams. It almost tasted chemical or tin tasting. Something was definitely off. So, I went to my trusty Cooks Illustrated books and found this recipe. I think this recipe tasted pretty good considering I have never worked with clams before. I think the fresh clam broth really makes the difference.

Recipe Source: Cooks Illustrated

New England Clam Chowder

Print Recipe
Serves: 8


  • 7 lbs. medium-size hard-shell clams , such as littleneck, topneck, or small cherrystone, washed and scrubbed clean
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon (about 4 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 large Spanish onion , diced medium (about 2 cups)
  • 2 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 medium boiling potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), scrubbed and diced medium
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley leaves



Bring clams and 3 cups water to boil in large, covered soup kettle. Following illustration 1, below, steam until clams just open, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer clams to large bowl; cool slightly. Following illustrations 2 and 3, remove clams from shells by opening clams with a paring knife while holding over a bowl to catch juices. Next, sever the muscle from under the clam and remove it from the shell. Reserve meat in bowl and discarding shells. Mince clams; set aside. Pour clam broth into 2-quart Pyrex measuring cup, holding back last few tablespoons broth in case of sediment; set clam broth aside. (Should have about 5 cups.) Rinse and dry kettle; return to burner.


Fry bacon in kettle over medium-low heat until fat renders and bacon crisps, 5 to 7 minutes. Add onion to bacon; sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add flour; stir until lightly colored, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in reserved clam juice. Add potatoes, bay leaf, and thyme; simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Add clams, cream, parsley, and salt (if necessary) and ground pepper to taste; bring to simmer. Remove from heat and serve.

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