Clam Chowder Recipe | Spoon Fork Bacon

A delicious and warming creamy New England Clam Chowder Recipe, made in under an hour. Loaded with chopped clams, we love serving this simple recipe in hollowed our sourdough bread bowls for a truly decadent experience.

Clam chowder in two bread bowls.

We love a big, creamy bowl of chowder and our Clam Chowder Recipe can’t be beat! It’s filled with loads of chopped clams, has a perfectly mild briny flavor, creamy texture and is so delicious!

We love enjoying a piping hot bowl on a chilly day and bonus points if it’s served in a hollowed out, sourdough bread bowl. Yum!

What is Clam Chowder?

Clam chowder is a chunky soup or stew filled with clams, potatoes and often time other vegetables like onions and carrots. Two of the most popular versions are New England and Manhattan-Style and we describe them and their differences below!

New England (Boston) Clam Chowder

This version is known for having a creamy, milky base and being thicker in texture. It’s believed to have been introduced to the east coast by either French, British or Nova Scotian settlers in the 1700’s, becoming a common dish in the area.

Manhattan Clam Chowder

This version is a thinner, tomato and broth based chowder that came into existence around the mid 1800’s when the popularity of tomatoes in the US grew.

How to Make Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder recipe ingredients all laid out to make.

Important Ingredients to Note for Our Clam Chowder Recipe

  • canned, chopped clams – We love the convenience of using chopped clams from a can. They also contain clam juice, so you don’t need to buy as much since you are supplementing from the cans.
  • clam juice – Bottles of just clam juice can be found in most grocery stores in the canned fish section along with the canned clams. Although our recipe calls for 2 1/2 cups clam juice, you’ll get anywhere from 1 to 1 1/2 cups clam juice from the canned clams, so will only need an additional 1 to 1/2 cups of clam juice.
  • new potatoes – Most recipes call for russet potatoes, which naturally release starches into the chowder as they cook. Since our clam chowder recipe is already thick and creamy we like using small new potatoes. They hold their shape a little better and provide a better texture
  • leeks – A unique ingredient you won’t find in most other chowder recipes. We love using them because they gently melt into the chowder as they cook down. They also impart a subtle onion-garlic flavor
  • bacon – We add a touch of bacon to our clam chowder recipe for the rich, smoky flavor they add. You can totally omit it and still have a delicious chowder!

Process

  1. Crisp bacon in a large pot for a few minutes.
  2. Add butter and melt.
  1. Stir in onion, carrot, leek, and potatoes and sauté. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Once onions and leeks have sweat and are slightly translucent, add thyme and corn. Stir together.
  1. Sprinkle flour over vegetable mixture and stir well to create a thick and even roux.
  2. While stirring, pour clam juice into the mixture in a steady stream until fully incorporated and no lumps remain. Turn heat down and allow the mixture to simmer until the mixture thickens, stirring frequently to prevent any burning on the bottom of the pot.
  1. Stir in clams and milk and continue to simmer continuing to stir frequently.
  2. Adjust seasonings if needed and serve hot (in hollowed out sourdough bread bowls, optional).
Clam chowder recipe in two bread bowls with a spoon in one.

Fresh, Canned or Frozen Clams?

As we mentioned earlier, canned clams are our preferred clam for this recipe. Nothing beats the convenience. Although there are a few different types of clams that can be used.

Fresh Clams

If using fresh clams for this recipe, we recommend cherrystone. They have a good flavor and meaty texture. This is a fine option, although using fresh clams will require some prep for our chowder. They will have to be steamed ahead of time and removed from their shells, before being chopped.

Canned Clams

This is our preferred type of clam to use. Due to the canning process, the clams are already cooked, so the canned just need to be opened and drained (although save the clam juice for the chowder!), before being used. Canned clams are not only convenient, they taste great and have a decent (a couple years) shelf life, if stored correctly.

Our preferred brand is Bar Harbor. They’re easy to find at most grocery stores, each clam is hand picked instead of machine processed, they are all natural (with no preservatives), and are lower in sodium than other canned options.

Frozen Clams

Another clam option for our clam chowder recipe are frozen clams. Frozen clams can be found either in their shells or the meat only. Both types are usually cooked ahead of time, although we recommend using the ones already shucked. Frozen clams can be added to the chowder, frozen, although the texture will be softer than fresh or canned clams.

Clam chowder in bread bowls.

What to Serve with Our Clam Chowder Recipe

We love that clam chowder is so hearty and a mea in itself. There are just a couple of things we love to have with our chowder.

  • Our preferred way to enjoy it is served in a hollowed out sourdough bread bowl. The interior or the bread bowl soaks up all the delicious flavors of the chowder, while the sourdough crust is sturdy enough to hold everything together. After we finish the chowder, we love ripping the bread bowl apart and chowing down on the chowder soaked bread!
  • We also love enjoying this clam chowder with oyster crackers or saltines! They add just the right amount of flavor and texture to the chowder.
  • A few (dozen) dashes of hot sauce is also a strong favorite for us. It perfectly cuts through the creamy chowder and balances the flavors out really well!
Clam chowder in two bread bowls.

Make Ahead and Freezing Clam Chowder

This recipe can be both made ahead of time and frozen for later consumption!

Make Ahead

Our chowder can be made up to 2 days ahead of time. To make ahead fully make chowder and cool. Once cooled, transfer chowder to an airtight container and refrigerate.

When ready to use transfer clam chowder to a pot and heat over medium-low heat, frequently stirring. Gently simmer until chowder has heated through. Remove from heat and adjust seasonings as needed.

Freezing

This clam chowder recipe can be frozen for up to 2 months. To freeze, make chowder but don’t add the milk. Cool chowder and transfer to an airtight, freezer-safe container.

When ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Once thawed, pour chowder into a pot and simmer over medium-low heat. Once chowder has heated through, stir in milk and continue to simmer until thick, creamy and hot. Adjust seasonings as needed and serve.

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Close up on a bread bowl with clam chowder.

Clam Chowder Recipe

PRINT RECIPE Pin Recipe

A delicious and warming creamy New England Clam Chowder Recipe, made in under an hour. Loaded with chopped clams, we love serving this simple recipe in hollowed our sourdough bread bowls for a truly decadent experience.

Prep Time: 10 mins

Cook Time: 40 mins

Total Time: 50 mins

Servings: 6

  INGREDIENTS  

  INSTRUCTIONS  

  • Place a large pot over medium heat and crisp bacon, about 5 minutes.

  • Add butter and melt.

  • Stir in onion and carrot and sauté for 5 minutes.

  • Add leek and potatoes and continue to sauté for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

  • Once onions and leeks have sweat and are slightly translucent, add thyme and corn. Stir together.

  • Sprinkle flour over vegetable mixture and stir well to create a thick roux, about 3 minutes.

  • While whisking, pour clam juice into the mixture in a steady stream until fully incorporated and no lumps remain. Turn heat down to medium-low and allow the mixture to simmer for about 8 minutes or until the mixture thickens, stirring frequently to prevent burning on the bottom.

  • Stir in clams and milk and continue to simmer for an additional 12 to 16 minutes, continuing to stir frequently.

  • Adjust seasonings and serve hot (in hollowed out sourdough bread bowls, if desired).

  NOTES  

Fresh, Canned or Frozen Clams? As we mentioned earlier, canned clams are our preferred clam for this recipe. Nothing beats the convenience. Although there are a few different types of clams that can be used. Fresh Clams If using fresh clams for this recipe, we recommend cherrystone. They have a good flavor and meaty texture. This is a fine option, although using fresh clams will require some prep for our chowder. They will have to be steamed ahead of time and removed from their shells, before being chopped. Canned Clams This is our preferred type of clam to use. Due to the canning process, the clams are already cooked, so the canned just need to be opened and drained (although save the clam juice for the chowder!), before being used. Canned clams are not only convenient, they taste great and have a decent (a couple years) shelf life, if stored correctly. Our preferred brand is Bar Harbor. They’re easy to find at most grocery stores, each clam is hand picked instead of machine processed, they are all natural (with no preservatives), and are lower in sodium than other canned options. Frozen Clams Another clam option for our clam chowder recipe are frozen clams. Frozen clams can be found either in their shells or the meat only. Both types are usually cooked ahead of time, although we recommend using the ones already shucked. Frozen clams can be added to the chowder, frozen, although the texture will be softer than fresh or canned clams. Make Ahead Our chowder can be made up to 2 days ahead of time. To make ahead fully make chowder and cool. Once cooled, transfer chowder to an airtight container and refrigerate. When ready to use transfer clam chowder to a pot and heat over medium-low heat, frequently stirring. Gently simmer until chowder has heated through. Remove from heat and adjust seasonings as needed. Freezing This clam chowder recipe can be frozen for up to 2 months. To freeze, make chowder but don’t add the milk. Cool chowder and transfer to an airtight, freezer-safe container. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Once thawed, pour chowder into a pot and simmer over medium-low heat. Once chowder has heated through, stir in milk and continue to simmer until thick, creamy and hot. Adjust seasonings as needed and serve.  

Calories: 319kcal Carbohydrates: 34g Protein: 9g Fat: 17g Saturated Fat: 9g Cholesterol: 44mg Sodium: 562mg Potassium: 502mg Fiber: 3g Sugar: 10g Vitamin A: 2655IU Vitamin C: 19mg Calcium: 122mg Iron: 2mg

CUISINE: American

KEYWORD: clam chowder, new england clam chowder

COURSE: Main Course, Soup

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