New England Clam Chowder
This simple New England clam chowder (sometimes called Boston clam chowder) features chunks of red potatoes and minced clams. Thick cut bacon and herbs join the cream to make a luxurious, comforting dish that everyone will love!
A childhood favorite of mine (and maybe of yours!), a piping hot bowl of New England clam chowder with crackers always hits the spot. My grandma always had cans of it in her pantry and it was my favorite soup to pick when we had lunch at her house, but once I realized it was quite simple to make at home, I’ve never looked back!
One of the best things about a good soup recipe is how far you can stretch the ingredients, making it a super economic meal. If you live somewhere where fresh clams aren’t accessible at a reasonable price, you’re in luck! For this New England clam chowder, we use both clam juice and canned minced clams instead, and it’s a winner!
Ingredient notes and tips
- Clams: As I noted above, this recipe does not call for fresh clams. Instead, we use canned minced clams (and the juice in them), along with a bottle of clam juice. Both of these are available in grocery stores for only a few dollars. If you are lucky enough to have fresh clams, you can use those in place of the canned ones, and adjust the clam juice based on your salt preference.
- Heavy cream: The potatoes and clams float in the base of cream, water, clam juice, and the flavors from the bacon fat and onions. However, if the cream is added to the recipe too quickly, it may curdle. To avoid this, make sure it is room temperature when you add it and do so slowly.
- Potatoes: Some New England clam chowder recipes call for Yukon gold potatoes, but they can be on the soft side. I use red potatoes instead, which I scrub thoroughly before cutting into 1½-inch cubes. They hold their texture really well and take on a bit less salt than their softer counterparts.
- Onions: This calls for Spanish Onions, which you may know as a yellow onion. These give us the caramelization we want, and you can even save some of the onions to add on top when you serve!
Let’s make it!
This fantastic recipe takes less than an hour to get on the table, which puts it in the coveted category of a weeknight-worthy soup!
Here’s how you make it…
- In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, fry the bacon over medium-low heat. You want to make sure the fat renders and the bacon crisps, which is usually about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Next, add the yellow onion and stir until they are softened (about 5 minutes).
- Then, add the flour and stir until it starts to get some color.
- Gradually whisk in the clam juice from the cans, as well as the bottled clam juice, and your water.
- Slowly add the potatoes, bay leaf, and thyme. From here you will simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Finally, add the clams, cream, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste; bring to a simmer.
- Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaf, and serve!
Serving, storing, and reheating New England clam chowder
I prefer to serve this immediately, but I know some folks like to let their soup sit longer! If doing so, make sure you reduce heat and stir occasionally to be sure your potatoes don’t fall apart. This goes really well as a main dish, alongside some cracker or crusty bread and a simple salad. If you want to take it up a notch, my copycat Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits are crazy good with this.
After letting it cool completely, this soup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Freezing cream-based soups is risky as it can be grainy, but it can be done! Pour the cooled soup into a freezer bag or container, leaving room for expansion, and freeze for up to 3 months.
You can reheat the soup in the microwave or on the stovetop over low heat. Bust out the crackers and enjoy!
It’s soup season! Join me and try these out!
- French Onion Soup
- Creamy Potato Leek Soup
- Cream of Mushroom Soup
- Cheddar Cheese Soup with Potato, Ale, and Bacon
I would absolutely love it if you gave this New England Clam Chowder a try; if you do, please stop back and leave a rating and let me know how you liked it! ENJOY! 😍
New England Clam Chowder
- 4 slices center-cut thick-cut bacon, (about 4 ounces), cut into ¼-inch pieces
- 1 large Spanish onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 26 ounces (737.09 g) minced clams, drained and juice reserved
- 16 ounces (453.59 ml) clam juice
- 1 cup (250 ml) water
- 1½ pounds (680.39 g) red potatoes, about 4 medium, scrubbed and cut into ½-inch dice
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ teaspoon (0.25 teaspoon) dried thyme
- 1 cup (238 ml) heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
- Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- Fry the bacon in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat until the fat renders and the bacon crisps, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the flour and stir until lightly colored, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the reserved clam juice (from the cans), the bottled clam juice and the water.
- Add the potatoes, bay leaf, and thyme and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Add the clams, cream, parsley, salt and pepper to taste; bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaf, and serve immediately.
- Clams: You can substitute fresh minced clams in place of the canned variety; adjust the clam juice based on your salt preference.
- Serving: Add crackers, a simple salad, or cheddar bay biscuits to make it a meal.
- Storing: The soup can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Freezing: The soup can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
- Reheating: The soup can be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop over low heat.
- Recipe adapted from The Best Soups and Stews
Photography by Lauren Grant.