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.

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!}

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.

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.

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.