Clam Chowder is the ultimate comfort food with tender clams, creamy potatoes and of course salty, smoky bacon!
Wonderfully creamy New England Clam Chowder is way easier than you think to make at home and about to become a new family favorite!
This easy clam chowder recipe has rich flavor for the perfect bowl of comfort!
While I love the summer months of sandals and jacket-free bike rides, I love the winter because SOUP!
Soup season is my favorite because soups are my favorite. I love how you don’t have to create any extra sides but instead get to curl up with your meal-in-one bowl of warm slurpilicious comfort just like this creamy clam chowder recipe.
What is Clam Chowder?
This cravilicious white creamy clam chowder is bursting with delectable clams, tender potatoes, and salty bacon.
Seeing as San Diego is on the opposite side of the United States from New England and fresh clams can be hard to come by or very expensive, I’ve chosen to make this clam chowder recipe with minced canned clams – and I couldn’t taste a difference!
In fact, many reputable restaurants use canned clams with the addition of clam juice. You will be shocked how restaurant-quality delicious this version tastes and canned clams make it that much easier!
How to Make Clam Chowder
A few notes about this recipe to make it the best ever homemade New England Clam Chowder.
First, use thick, center cut bacon instead of traditional sliced bacon.
Sliced bacon wilts as its simmered whereas thick bacon holds up to the heat so you are left with a wonderful meaty texture that complements the clams.
Next, be sure to use russet potatoes.
Their soft, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture is ideal for chowders. They taste the most “potato-y” as opposed to waxy as you want them practically falling apart in your mouth.
Finally, everyone has their own opinion as to how thick a chowder should be.
For this clam chowder recipe, we use a roux to thicken the chowder then stir in 1 cup heavy cream at the end of cooking.
If you would like a thicker chowder, simmer the soup longer, or for a thinner chowder, stir in additional chicken broth.
To finish the chowder, we pile it with some of the reserved crispy bacon, fresh parsley (optional) and oyster crackers.
Now dig into your better-than-any-restaurant New England Clam Chowder!
New England Clam Chowder
- 3 6.5 oz. cans chopped/minced clams in clam juice
- 8 ounces clam juice
- 6 thick center-cut bacon strips chopped
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 stalks celery finely chopped
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 ¼ pounds russet potatoes peeled and diced into ¼-½” cubes, approx. 3 ½ cups
- 3-5 garlic cloves minced
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon each dried parsley dried oregano, salt
- ¼ teaspoon each dried thyme pepper
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Oyster crackers
- Fresh parsley
- Drain clam juice from cans into a measuring cup. Add enough bottled clam juice to equal 2 ½ cups. Set aside.
- In a Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until fat is rendered and slightly brown. Remove half of the bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. To the remaining bacon and drippings, melt in 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat.
- Increase heat to medium high and add celery and onion. Saute for 5-7 minutes or until onions are soft. Add potatoes, garlic, red pepper flakes (if using) and sauté 30 seconds. Sprinkle in flour and cook an additional 1 minute. Stir in chicken broth, reserved 2 ½ cups clam juice, chicken bouillon, bay leaves and all seasonings. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are very tender.
- Stir in heavy cream and bring to a simmer to heat through. Discard bay leaves. Remove from heat and stir in clams. Taste and add salt/pepper to taste. (You may or may not need additional salt depending on how salty your clams and bacon are.) For a thinner or less chunky soup stir in additional heavy cream/milk or chicken broth.
- Top individual servings with reserved bacon and oyster crackers and fresh parsley if desired.
What are the Different Types of Clam Chowder?
The most common type of clam chowder is New England Clam Chowder! This type of clam chowder is also known as “Boston” clam chowder and features a rich creamy base with potatoes and onions (and no tomatoes).
Manhattan Clam Chowder is quite different as it generally has a clear tomato broth.
Long Island Clam chowder combines the two above to create a delicious creamy tomato base where Rhode Island Clam chowder is simply a clear broth.
Of all varieties, I have to admit, this award winning New England Clam Chowder is definitely at the top of my list!
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