New England Clam Chowder

This New England Clam Chowder will knock your socks off!  The perfect comfort food for a cold night.This New England Clam Chowder will knock your socks off! The perfect comfort food for a cold night.


It was over Christmas break that Nathan succumbed to his super strong craving for New England Clam Chowder . . . homemade.

He typically limits himself to like once a winter, because when you add up the cost of the clams and the clam juice, it’s a lot for a meal that our picky little non-soup eaters won’t even touch.  It’s an America’s Test Kitchen recipe, so you know it’s really good.

So I watched him prep for the soup, cut up the potatoes, slice the bacon (yes, I said BACON), and get ready to create the roux . . .

Much to my horror, my incredibly intelligent husband was about to pour all the liquid quickly into the pot with the bacon fat and flour.  Sweet hell! Say it isn’t so!

“I mean . . . I saw they say to pour it in slowly, but I didn’t really think it mattered that much.”

This New England Clam Chowder will knock your socks off! The perfect comfort food for a cold night.

Ummmm, it matters.

It made me realize that I need to be a lot more explicit in my directions on the blog.  I am by no means an expert chef.  I’m a home cook.  But I’ve been a home cook for awhile, so there are some things that I’ve learned through trial and error.  One of them is that when you are making a roux (a fat + flour = a thickening agent for a soup or a sauce, called a roux), you have to add the liquid that follows really slowly.

So, I showed him just how slowly it had to be added, and he was kind of shocked.  I mean, I’m talking like a few tablespoons at a time, and when it’s done that way, it creates a beautiful thick and creamy base for your soup.  And the clam chowder that he loves so much was even better than it normally was . . . just by that one simple step in the directions.

This New England Clam Chowder will knock your socks off! The perfect comfort food for a cold night.

So for this New England Clam Chowder, I started off with the America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe and tweaked a few things.  For one, I added celery.  I just think clam chowder kind of has to have celery.  Next, I did red potatoes instead of the Yukon that they recommend, because that’s just always the way we’ve made it and we love it.  Finally, they call for clam juice as the base.  It is absolutely true that it makes for a really delicious clamy soup, however, as I mentioned earlier, EXPENSIVE.  So to cut cost a little, I replaced it with chicken stock.  It was still insanely delicious.  And a lot cheaper too.  That said, if you want, take out the chicken stock and replace it with three 8 oz bottles of clam juice.


Clam Chowder


  • 4 slices of thick cut bacon, diced into small pieces
  • 3 cups of chicken stock (see note)
  • 4 (6.5 oz) cans of chopped clams, liquid reserved (see step 2)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 pounds red potatoes (about five medium) diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 8 oz heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 TBSPs well minced parsley
  • salt and pepper


  1. In a large stew pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp, stirring often.
  2. While the bacon is cooking, pour the 3 CUPS chicken stock into a four cup measuring cup. Add the liquid from the cans of clams to the chicken stock, making approximately 4 1/2 cups of liquid.
  3. Add the diced celery and onions, cooking until they are translucent and very soft.
  4. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds, being careful that the garlic doesn't burn.
  5. Stir in the flour, coating all of the veggies and the bacon. Continue cooking about a minute until the flour begins to brown.
  6. EXTREMELY gradually, pour in the clam juice/chicken stock mixture. Pour about two tablespoons at a time (no need to measure, this is just an estimate), whisking it into the flour veggie mixture. There should be no visible liquid between each pour. The veggies should look like a gummy mess. Continue this way until you use all the liquid, pouring more quickly at the end.
  7. Add the potatoes, thyme, and bay leaves and increase the heat to high and bring to a boil (you are looking for big bubbles at the surface). Then reduce to a simmer (the lowest you can go heat wise and still see bubbles) and continue cooking for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
  8. Stir in the cream and chopped clams, and let heat through for a minute. Remove from the heat stir in the fresh parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


The original recipe, by America's Test Kitchen, calls for 3 8oz bottles of clam juice. I decided to make the recipe just a little more cost efficient and use chicken stock, but if you want to go the extra mile use the clam juice. Both ways are awesome.

This New England Clam Chowder will knock your socks off!  The perfect comfort food for a cold night.


  1. says

    Oh, Lisa, you know how to speak to my soul! I have been craving a good, hearty clam chowder with the freezing weather out here and this looks like just the thing. Also, I love that you were able to watch someone cook your recipe and see little tweaks to make. I often just assume people know what I’m talking about and forget to be super specific in my instructions!
    Amy | Club Narwhal recently posted…CAROLINA BBQ VINEGAR SAUCEMy Profile

  2. Amie says

    So what do I do with the bacon? Should I remove it and crumble it and put it back in or do I serve on the side?

  3. Karen DalPezzo says

    I made this clam chowder today and it was delicious. I also added 1/3 head of cauliflower, which just desolved into the soup. Yummy!!!!!

  4. Tammy says

    I made your recipe tonight and my husband said it was delicious. I used frozen clams and boiled them to get some of the juice for the broth. My mom taught be a trick for making roue. You put the flour and a few spoonfuls of broth in a container with a lid, add an ice cube and shake until it is mixed. Strain the lumps out and add directly to the warm broth. It works perfectly everytime. I added more flour because I like thicker chowder. I did everything else as instructed and only needed half the cream. Thanks for your recipe.

    • says

      It definitely wouldn’t be my go to for freezing soups. If you do freeze it, I guess I would suggested doing so before you add the clams and heavy cream and just bringing the soup up to a simmer upon thawing and then adding those.

  5. Mindy says

    Freakin delicious! I have made clam chowder before (my daughter loves it) but it turned out disgusting. So I was a bit reluctant to try again. I followed the recipe to the letter AND used good quality canned clams. It’s going on my regular soup list. Thanks for a great recipe!

  6. says

    I made this yesterday (1/3/2017) for dinner, and I must say AMAZING! I actually bought 1 of the Clam Juice, which I ended up having 2 cups of Clam Juice the other from the 4 cans that I drained. I then used Chicken Broth for the reminder 2 1/2 cups. In doing this I found it to come out perfect-I didn’t have to add any salt for my taste.

    • says

      I’m really sorry to hear you didn’t like it Carolyn. This is a recipe that my husband and I have been making and loving for years. Certainly, tastes vary, but there are lots of others who have enjoyed it too. It must just not be your cup of tea.

  7. Christine says

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I followed it exactly and it is delicious 🙂 We are eating while watching our New England Patriots!!!!

  8. Jim Vrioni says

    I like the taste of sherry in clam chowder; would you care to recommend how much and what type (sweet or dry) sherry to add if desired?

    • says

      Hi Jim! I don’t do a lot of cooking with sherry, so I’m afraid I’m of no use to you here. I would say, that in general when you are using cooking wines you should use something that you would drink. But does anyone actually drink sherry? See, this shows you how little I know 🙂

    • says

      Roxann, I’m so sorry, I don’t have an answer to this! I don’t have any experience with fresh clams. I would suspect that you could look at the ounces on the can and then tell the guy at the fish counter what you need. However, I would highly recommend you just using canned clams. They have a good shelf life so you can grab them ahead of time, they are less expensive, and in this soup with all the other flavors going on, I don’t think you will notice the difference.

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