New England Clam Chowder

© 2012

OK. I’m on a soup posting kick right now. I love soups. This is a fabulous New England Style Clam Chowder you should definitely try (unless you don’t like clams).

Quickstep loves New Englad Style Clam Chowder. So do we. When Quickstep was in college he would come home for a visit during the winter. Being typical parents, we would let Quickstep pick out what he wanted us to cook for dinner. Inevitably, he wanted a warm, hearty soup. We would go to the Asian market where they had fresh Manilla clams in running water, pick out 9 lbs of clams, come home and fix him this soup. With a loaf of crusty French Bread, this is a fabulously filling and delectable meal. Try it. You will like it.


  • 9 pounds Manilla Clams, scrubbed and rinsed
  • 8 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup white onions, small dice
  • 1 cup celery, small dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed (1/2-inch cube)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 6 Tbsp cold, unsalted butter (cut into 12 equal cubes)
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped chives or green onions


First, clean, rinse and purge the clams throwing away the clams that stay open. To purge the clams put the clams in cool water, add 2 tablespoons of flour and let sit. The clams will ingest the flour irritating them and they will try to flush the flour which will also flush the sand and dirt. You will see the lams open up a little, bubble and put their spout out.

After cleaning and purging the clams, bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a large stockpot. Add Manilla clams, cover and cook for 5 minutes. You can use Littleneck clams, Cherrystone clams or Quahog clams, whichever you prefer but use 8 lbs as opposed to 9 lbs for the Manilla clams. If you use Quahog Clams you will need to chop the clams after cooking because they are so large. More than likely you will also have to chop the Littleneck and Cherrystone clams, too. The reason I use Manilla clams is because they fit perfectly into a soup spoon so you get a luscious bite of a beautiful clam in a spoonful of chowder.

After 5 minutes uncover and stir clams with a wooden spoon. Replace cover and cook 5 to 10 minutes longer (this will depend on the type and size of clams you are using), or until most of the clams are opened.

Transfer the clams to a large bowl or baking dish and strain the broth twice through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, being careful to strain out the sand. I line my sieve with fine cheesecloth or muslin which helps remove 98% of the grit. You should have about 6 cups of clam broth. (If not, add enough water to bring the volume up to 6 cups.) Let the clams cool. When the clams are cool enough to handle, remove them from their shells and set both the clams and broth aside. If you have chosen to use larger clams, chop the lams into 1/2 inch pieces.

Add the chopped bacon to a large, heavy pot. Fry the bacon until crisp and the fat is rendered. Pour off all bacon fat except 2 tablespoons. Add the butter, onions and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme and bay leaves, and cook until the vegetables are thoroughly wilted, about 3 minutes. Do not to brown or caramelize. Add the potatoes along with the reserved clam broth, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the broth thickens slightly and the potatoes are very tender. If you like a thicker broth, you have 2 options. First, mash some of the potatoes against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. Alternatively, make a white roux with 1/4 cup flour & 1/4 cup of butter. Add to the soup and allow to cook roughly 30 minutes to let the flour cook out. Remove from the heat, stir in clams and heavy cream and season with pepper and salt, as needed.

Set aside for 1 hour, covered, to allow the flavors to marry. Place the pot over low heat, and slowly reheat, being careful not to bring to the boil. Serve hot, garnished with 1 or 2 pats of butter, parsley and chives. Enjoy!

NOTES: If you opt to use a roux to thicken the chowder, you will need to add more salt. Also, because you have already added the butter, omit the butter when serving. Just add parsley and cilantro.

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