Whenever we visit a new coastal town, it is my husband’s mission to try the clam chowder in every eating establishment we visit. He looooves the stuff and seems to be on a quest to find the very best bowl of it. But luckily, getting a good bowl of clam chowder isn’t limited to locations that happen to have an abundance of fresh local clams – you can make a delicious, creamy, hearty pot of it right in your own kitchen. This Easy New England Clam Chowder recipe more than meets my husband’s chowder standards and it takes barely more than a half-hour.
I find that starting this whole process off with bacon adds some excellent smoky flavor (but where doesn’t it do that?) so here you brown some chopped bacon up first and then use the drippings (and a bit of butter) to soften up some celery, onion, and potatoes. Then you’ll stir in some flour and broth and you basically have a simple potato chowder… but you need the clams!
Now, fresh clams have a flavor unlike anything else, but they’re not available to all of us so this recipe makes excellent use of canned clams and bottled clam juice. You’ll be stirring in two cans of chopped clams and their juices – don’t drain them – as well as a whole bottle of clam juice. It sounds like a lot, but it’s just the right amount of salty, seafoody flavor.
There’s cream too, of course, but also a hint of thyme and garlic in there too, which I find keeps things from tasting too rich or too one-note. Depending on how much juice is in your cans of clams, you might opt to thin this out with some additional broth at the end, or if you like a really thick chowder you can even stir in an additional slurry to thicken things up. Either way, it’s an excellent bowl of clam chowder and you don’t have to go on vacation to get it!
Easy New England Clam Chowder
10m prep time
30m cook time
- 4 thick slices bacon, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2-3 cups chicken broth or stock
- 1 lb waxy potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 (6.5 oz each) cans chopped clams, undrained
- 1 (8 oz) bottle clam juice
- 2 cups heavy cream
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Fresh parsley, minced, for serving (optional)
- Oyster crackers, for serving (optional)
- In a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat, cook bacon until just slightly browned and crisped.
- Add butter. Once melted, add onion, celery, and half of the potatoes and cook until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.
- Add flour and cook 1 minute. Gradually stir in 2 cups of the broth, along with the remaining potatoes and thyme. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, 10-15 minutes.
- Add clam juice, clams, and cream and stir to combine. With heat on medium, cook 5 minutes more, careful not to let it come to a boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add more broth if a thinner consistency is desired. Enjoy!