New England Clam Chowder

This rich and creamy homemade New England clam chowder is packed full of meaty fresh clams, bacon, buttery yellow potatoes and just a touch of heavy cream. This is the perfect soup for cold winter days and nights.

This easy homemade New England clam chowder uses fresh clams and just a touch of cream. It's the perfect cold weather soup.

Growing up my idea of clam chowder was the stuff that came from the Chunky can. Thick, gloopy and packed full of more potatoes than clam. Even though I hated most seafood I seemed to love the stuff. For some reason that thicker than glue paste soup really spoke my food loving heart.

I look back now and I think “what the hell?” The first time you have homemade New England clam chowder you realize that the homemade stuff is WAY different than the canned stuff. My first time having the good stuff was in San Fransisco. We has spent a very cold morning walking across the Golden Gate Bridge (never again!) and we were looking for something to warm us up.

Clam chowder totally fit that bill.

{Looking for more soup ideas? Try my curried lentil soup, tom kha gai chicken coconut soup or spicy chicken lime soup!}

This homemade New England clam chowder is easily made with fresh clams, cream and buttery potatoes. It's the perfect winter soup.

Before I started testing for this recipe I had never actually made my own clam chowder. I’m not sure why but I thought it would be super complicated and wouldn’t taste as great as my San Fran memory.

Isn’t it amazing how much detail a memory can hold? Memories aren’t just little nuggets of thoughts they hold smells, taste and even feelings for me. I can still remember the feeling in my stomach when I danced to “I’ll Make Love to You” with my crush at junior high graduation. I can also remember that he was smacking away on Big Red gum while dancing with me so now anytime I smell cinnamon gum I flash back to that day and the complete total awkwardness of the situation.

The memories that live in my brain are so random.

This homemade New England clam chowder is the perfect soup for cold winter night. Filled with fresh clams, buttery potatoes and just a touch of heavy cream.

What does my junior high dance have to do with clam chowder? Nothing really. I just though it was important to show you how much random crap lives in my brain.

But I guess I should let you know all about this soup. Did it live up the memory? YES! I didn’t have a bread bowl to eat it in but it’s ok because I just ate it straight from the pot because I’m super classy. I packed this baby FULL of chopped clams, buttery yellow potatoes, bacon, herbs and just a touch {ok, maybe a little more than a touch} of heavy cream. This is the type of soup that warms you to the core and takes you right back to San Fransisco.

Well, the second part is only if we share the same San Fran clam chowder memory.

Print

Homemade New England Clam Chowder

This rich and creamy homemade New England clam chowder is packed full of meaty fresh clams, bacon, buttery yellow potatoes and just a touch of heavy cream. This is the perfect soup for cold winter days and nights.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutesplus clam cleaning time

Cook Time: 60 min

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 dozen cherrystone clams, rinsed and cleaned
  • 8 slices thick sliced bacon, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, small dice
  • 1 large yellow onion, small dice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6 cups clam juice
  • 2 pounds baby yellow potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • Hot sauce, a few shakes (optional)

Slightly adapted from Bon Appetit

Directions:

In a large pot set over high heat add 8 cups water to a boil.

Add in cleaned clams and cover the pot with a lid. Boil for about 10 minutes until all the clams have opened their shells. Discard any clams that have not opened their shell. (If the there is a not enough water to cover the clams add more until the clams are covered.)

Once clams are cooked remove from the pot and let cool while you prepare the soup.

In a large soup pot set over medium heat add bacon. Once the bacon starts to render it's fat add in diced celery and onion. Cook over medium heat until the vegetables are soft and translucent. Add in garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. (If your bacon does not give off a lot of fat drizzle in a little olive oil or a tablespoon of unsalted butter.)

Add in clam juice, diced potatoes, fresh thyme leaves and bay leaf. Bring to a slight simmer and cook for about 25 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender but not falling apart.

While the soup simmers remove the clams from their shells and chop into bite size pieces, set aside.

When the clam juice mixture is ready in a small bowl whisk together cornstarch and cold water until smooth. Pour into the soup and boil lightly until the soup starts to thicken, about 5 minutes.

Take the soup off the heat, remove the bay leaf, stir in chopped clams and heavy cream.

Taste the soup and add in kosher salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot with a giant slice of crusty bread.

42 Responses to “New England Clam Chowder”

  1. #
    1
    Tori@Gringalicious.com — February 16, 2015 at 6:52 am

    Just the title of this makes me feel all warm and cozy! I love clam chowder!

  2. #
    2
    Gina — February 16, 2015 at 7:41 am

    Dude, that white globby stuff from the campbells can still haunts me. This looks just a taaaad bit better 🙂

  3. #
    3
    Amy @ A Healthy Life For Me — February 16, 2015 at 7:58 am

    I want this for dinner tonight. I LOVE clam chowder and its cold and snowy here, so this will be perfect!

  4. #
    4
    Lisa @ Garnish with Lemon — February 16, 2015 at 8:03 am

    I’ve never made clam chowder at home. Clearly, this needs to change!

  5. #
    5
    Rachel @ Baked by Rachel — February 16, 2015 at 8:05 am

    Such a classic! Josh would go crazy for this. Beautiful styling too (as always)! 🙂

  6. #
    6
    Julie @ Tastes of Lizzy T — February 16, 2015 at 8:14 am

    I grew up with canned soups, too! This clam chowder is absolutly gorgeous. Great job with the recipe and the photos!

  7. #
    7
    Susan @ Our Family Eats — February 16, 2015 at 8:25 am

    What a perfect dinner for this dreary late winter weather we’re having. It looks prettier than any clam chowder I’ve ever seen, too. This will be on my dinner table soon!

  8. #
    8
    Meg @ The Housewife in Training Files — February 16, 2015 at 8:27 am

    Why does memories of soup have be those of chunky soup from cans? So disappointing but I will gladly trade those memories for a soup such as this!

  9. #
    9
    Jenny Flake — February 16, 2015 at 8:30 am

    Wowee!! So so beautiful! Want!!

  10. #
    10
    Meagan @ A Zesty Bite — February 16, 2015 at 8:34 am

    This clam chowder is absolutely stunning. My idea growing up would consist of the same stuff in the can but not anymore.

  11. #
    11
    Martha @ A Family Feast — February 16, 2015 at 8:40 am

    I chuckled a bit that you had to go all the way to San Francisco to taste real New England Clam Chowder – but I’m glad you did! Looks fantastic!

    • nutmegnanny replied: — February 16th, 2015 @ 8:54 am

      Haha I know, right? I never made it over to New England until I decided to move here when I was 19.

  12. #
    12
    Krista @ Joyful Healthy Eats — February 16, 2015 at 9:31 am

    seriously gorgeous Brandy! Could go for a big bowl of this right now!

  13. #
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    Cookin Canuck — February 16, 2015 at 10:43 am

    Random or not, I loved that junior high memory. Aww, the awkwardness of those years! This is seriously one of best looking clam chowders I have ever seen, and I’ve had a lot of clam chowders in my day.

  14. #
    14
    Heather / girlichef — February 16, 2015 at 10:53 am

    I can’t tell you how much I love clam chowder – of any variety (except canned)! This is just gorgeous, and it’s totally calling my name.

  15. #
    15
    Stephanie @ Back for Seconds — February 16, 2015 at 11:34 am

    Wow, this looks so perfect! I LOVE clam chowder!

  16. #
    16
    Melanie | Melanie Makes — February 16, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    Just gorgeous! Wish I had a bowl to ward off this crazy Cleveland cold snap!

  17. #
    17
    Emily @ Life on Food — February 16, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    I am from Maine and super picky about clam chowder. I cannot eat it out because you never know what might come to the table. This bowl looks delicious. Definitely could use some right now with all of the cold and snow.

  18. #
    18
    Liz @ The Lemon Bowl — February 16, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    Oh my gosh I forgot about Big Red gum!!! I want a slice right now!!

  19. #
    19
    Catherine — February 16, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Dear Brandy, you have blown me away. Gorgeous photos…this chowder looks so, so good!!! I wish had a bowl of this heaven today. Pinned for later. I would love to give this a try. Stay safe and warm dear. xo, Catherine

  20. #
    20
    fabiola@notjustbaked — February 16, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    I love that you used two pounds of glorious clams! More clams more better :).

  21. #
    21
    Barbara | Creative Culinary — February 16, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    I’ve been down the red and white can route too but luckily saw the light many years ago. Soups are too easy to make and this one my dear looks ABSOLUTELY fantastic!

  22. #
    22
    The Food Hunter — February 16, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    I haven’t had chowder in ages…this looks wonderful

  23. #
    23
    Amanda @ Cookie Named Desire — February 16, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    I’ve only had homemade clam chowder once and you are right, it is worlds different from the canned stuff. You can barely even call it the same soup! I’ve never made my own chowder, but you are really tempting me to give it a try!

  24. #
    24
    amanda @ fake ginger — February 16, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    I’m going to San Francisco next week and I totally want to walk over the bridge if it means I can have clam chowder afterwards. This looks awesome!

  25. #
    25
    Kirsten/ComfortablyDomestic — February 16, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    I swear that eating clam chowder out of a Boudin sourdough bread bowl I’m San Francisco has forever ruined me for any other–it’s just so perfect. Seriously. That whole experience at random times throughout my life is the reason that I’ve never attempted clam chowder at home. Yours looks so perfect that I might need to rethink my stance on it all.

  26. #
    26
    Nibbles By Nic — February 16, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    Can I seriously move in and grab some of that soup from you. Just a bowl or two??? I love everything you did with it and totally plan on making it in my home! Thanks for the new recipe on a classic fave of mine! xo Nic

  27. #
    27
    Amanda @ The Kitcheneer — February 16, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    Same here! I totally thought clam chowder came from the Campbell’s company and was turned off to it for quite some time. I HAVE to try this home made version! I too have never cooked with clams, I will be brave though cause I really want to try this soup!

  28. #
    28
    Lauren @ Healthy Delicious — February 16, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    clam chowder is the best! and you know I love oyster crackers. yum!
    I didn’t even know people *could* walk over the golden gate bridge…..that sounds….terrible. haha

  29. #
    29
    Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen — February 16, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    I recently tried some “real” clam chowder and I’m hooked. I can’t wait to make this!

  30. #
    30
    Megan {Country Cleaver} — February 16, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    My step dad makes a new england clam chowder that is to die for – but the worst part is – IVE NEVER WRITTEN IT DOWN!! I have to try yours out next time I have a craving which I’m sure will be very soon!

  31. #
    31
    Patricia @ Grab a Plate — February 16, 2015 at 11:39 pm

    Wow! This is one of my favorites, and yours looks absolutely amazing! I’m seriously craving this. (Love the Big Red memory!)

  32. #
    32
    Sharon @ What The Fork Food Blog — February 17, 2015 at 7:20 am

    As a New Englander, I must say there is nothing better than a bowl of New England Clam Chowder. Unless it’s in a bread bowl! I just made a huge batch of it for the Super Bowl. Yours looks great!

  33. #
    33
    Becky | The Cookie Rookie — February 17, 2015 at 10:21 am

    This is SO beautiful! And creative! I love this post!!

  34. #
    34
    Angie | Big Bear's Wife — February 17, 2015 at 10:26 am

    hahaha my brain totally works like that too. lol
    mmm so, New England clam chowder is the ONLY way that calm chowder should be made in my opinion! I’ve also thought it was way too hard to make at home but wow does that look good and it sounds pretty easy too!

  35. #
    35
    Andi @ The Weary Chef — February 17, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    I have to admit that I do love canned clam chowder, but I’m sure your homemade version is 100x better!

  36. #
    36
    valmg @ From Val's Kitchen — February 17, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    New England Clam Chowder is one of the hubby’s favorite soups. He’d love love love to find this waiting for him on the stove!

  37. #
    37
    Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom — February 21, 2015 at 8:38 am

    Brandy, I want a big bowl of this soup AND your tom kha gai chicken coconut soup. . but don’t want to get up from the couch and my blanket b/c it’s so freaking cold. I have issues. love this soup. . it’s gorgeous!

  38. #
    38
    Sabrina @ Familynano — November 13, 2016 at 9:18 am

    This is the best clam chowder i have ever eaten,it will be my forever receipt.
    Thank Brandy

  39. #
    39
    Isabella — December 29, 2017 at 12:32 am

    Thanks to show us a simple but spacial recipe. I could make it at home next holiday for my lover son john Andree. Only potatoes and heavy crime and it will be a delicious food.

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