Sunday, September 11, 2011

New England Clam Chowder

One of my main goals during my vacation was to eat as much seafood as possible.  I love it, but I don't buy it very often due to it's price.  Even though I live in Connecticut, where you'd assume seafood would be abundant, it's still often outside my limited price range.  I could certainly buy it more often, but then I'd be making ramen noodle soup more often as well.  In Chincoteague, as it's right on the water, there is much more locally caught seafood to buy and eat, and the prices were generally much better!  I absolutely achieved my goal, and one of the ways I did that was to make the chowder twice, buying mounds of clams from Gary Howard seafood.  This is a very clammy clam chowder so if you like clams, you'll like this!  It's a thin, not creamy chowder, so if you are looking for something with a creamy consistency, this is not the recipe I'd personally choose for that (although I would like to try pureeing some of the potatoes in this chowder to see what it does for the thickness), but it's super-delicious.  It's great in larger servings for a main course, or as a first course to a meal, especially one loaded with more seafood.

New England Clam Chowder
Serves 4

36 hard-shelled clams (less than 2 inches wide), such as littlenecks, scrubbed well
1 1/2 cups cold water
2 medium boiling potatoes
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 bacon slices, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup half-and-half
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1. Put the clams, and the cold water in a large pot, and place over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil.  When it starts to boil, cover with the lid, and steam for 5 to 8 minutes until the clams open.  Check after 5 minutes, and begin removing any that have opening.  If any are still closed, allow them to steam longer.  Discard any that haven't opened after 8 minutes.  Strain and reserve the cooking liquid (there will be some fine grit, so use a fine-mesh sieve, or line a sieve with cheesecloth to strain out the grit).
2. When the clams can be handled, remove them from their shells, and roughly chop.
3. Peel the potatoes, and dice them into 1/4-inch pieces.
4. Place a large saucepan over medium heat, and add the butter. 
5. When the butter is melted, add the bacon, and cook until golden, about 4 to 5 minutes.
6. Add the onion, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring often.
7. Add the potatoes, and reserved cooking liquid, and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are tender, 5-10 minutes.
8. Add the clams, half-and-half, and pepper to taste, and cook about 1 minute until heated through.  Do not let the chowder boil.  
9. Add the parsley.

  • As I mentioned earlier, I'd love to puree some of the potatoes once they're cooked as it should give the finished soup a thicker consistency. 
  • If you'd like, you can use salt pork instead of bacon, but the bacon lends a nice smokiness to the chowder.
  • It is very easy at the end for the half-and-half to separate a bit.  Mine did in fact, but it will not affect the taste or consistency if this happens a little bit, it's more a visual thing.


  1. My husband is a huge New England chowder fan, and I'm a Manhattan chowda gal. This looks great!

  2. I love both types, but I'd have to say the New England is my favorite! I'd love to find a good recipe for and make the Manhattan type though.... something to add to my "to cook" list!

  3. Hi Emily, chowder looks great! The pictures of your trip were awesome! It looks very relaxing there...very thourea-esque! I'm glad you are posting again. I missed you and feel like reading your blog and posting comments keeps us in touch :)

  4. I'm definitely trying to get back to regular posting (I'd love to do every day, but every other day might be more realistic!) This week my schedule was crazy so I didn't get much of a chance after Monday, but next week is looking better! The vacation was extremely relaxing- it's a beautiful island!