Clam Chowder Recipe New England Style

by Muck Raker on December 4, 2009

Steve’s Clam Chowder Recipe is a Secret No Longer

New England Clam Chowder with 4 Variations

The secret is out. This is my clam chowder recipe.  The one I call the heart stopper. The one with the cream, the fat and all the taste! This chowder recipe has evolved over the years to what it is today. I don’t guarantee you’ll love it, but I honestly think you will.


4-5 quarts of fresh littleneck clams (about 2 cups cooked and chopped)
(save broth after cooking to cook potatoes in)
(Substitute for littlenecks – 2 cups of canned minced clams, chopped clams or baby clams or a combination of any or all, then well drain (save juice from canned clams to cook potatoes in)
6 strips of bacon very finely chopped (freeze before chopping)
1/2 medium sweet onion finely chopped
1-1/2 lbs of red potatoes diced (less than 1/2” pieces, peeled if you wish. I just cut out the bad spots if there are any.)
2 cups of finely chopped potatoes (in addition to the 1.5 lbs)
2 teaspoons of finely chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon of ground thyme
1/2 teaspoon of ground rosemary
1 quart of heavy cream
1/4 lb of salted butter
1/2 cup of sour cream
Salt & Pepper to taste
Oyster crackers

Preparation of littleneck clams:

Wash the littleneck clams (they can be sandy) and place them in a large pot along with water (6 cups). Cover the pot and steam clams just until opened, about 6 to 10 minutes depending upon the size of the clams. Drain and shell the clams, SAVE the broth. (You may want to wash the clams in the broth after shelling to remove any additional grit.) Mince the clams and set aside. It is IMPORTANT to filter the clam broth either through coffee filters or cheesecloth before using. Set aside for cooking with potatoes. Rinse your pot. You’re not done with it yet.

** If you decided to use canned clams this is the point where you get out the can opener and drain the minced clams and save the juice from the cans. It’s ok to do it this way. I do it all the time.
Now that you’ve prepped your bacon, potatoes, clams, onions and chopped basil you are onto the final preparations for your chowder.

Final Preparations: Two simultaneous steps. Chowder Base and Potatoes:

This is your chowder base:

In a medium sized frying pan slowly cook the chopped bacon until almost crispy. Add the chopped onions and slow cook until onions are fully cooked but not browned. Stir in the herbs (basil, thyme and rosemary) while the onions are cooking. When done add butter and sour cream and turn off burner and remove pan. Let the butter and sour cream melt slowly.

This is the potato part:

On another burner you are going to cook the potatoes in your big pot. Place ALL the potatoes in your pot. Add the clam broth (or clam juice from cans) until it barely covers the potatoes. (You do not need to completely cover the potatoes.) Add some water if necessary. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through. Slightly soft is good. (about 12-15 minutes) Do NOT drain.

NOW… to the cooked potatoes you add the heavy cream, the chowder base (the stuff in the frying pan) Reheat the chowder until it is the temperature you prefer. Serve in your favorite chowder bowls with oyster crackers on the side. (Optional – Top off bowl of chowder with a leaf of basil and a dollop of sour cream if you want it to look fancy.)

Serves 8-10 depending on the size of your bowls.
Total Prep and Cook Time approx. 1 hr.

Variation #1 on the clam chowder recipe. This one with Half & Half or Light Cream. It only has some of the fat and it still tastes great. It’s  just not as thick!

Ingredient changes:

*1 quart of Half & Half or Light Cream (change from main recipe)
*1/4 lb of salted butter (change from main recipe)
*1/4 cup of sour cream (change from main recipe)

Variation #2 . Substitute the half & half/light cream with whole milk. This reduces the fat content in the chowder a little bit more. At this point the flavor will still be very good but the richness of the flavor begins to fade. You may like this variation if you’ve been on a low fat diet because you won’t miss the butter fat. You may also reduce the butter and sour cream or eliminate it, but flavor wise, I would not recommend it.

Variation #3. DAIRY FREE. You may use soy milk, rice milk or hemp milk in place of the dairy. It will have a different taste from the dairy based chowders, but if you are used to this type of substitution it will still be very tasty. Remove butter and sour cream from the recipe also.

Variation #4. For a clear broth clam chowder REMOVE from the recipe all milk, cream, half & half, non dairy substitutes, butter and sour cream. Pat down the bacon after cooking so it is dry and crispy. Pulverize the bacon in a mortar & pestle with your herbs. Sauté your onions in a small amount of extra light olive oil or corn oil. Add them to the potatoes with your pulverized mixture of bacon and herbs. The only additional ingredient for this recipe is clam juice which you will need when you replace the dairy products. So buy about 32 ounces of bottled clam juice. There is a clam base you can purchase which you would just add to water to taste as a substitute for clam juice.

*** The product I know is called “Better Than Bouillon”. There are several types of bases available.

Disclaimer: Everyone cooks a little differently therefore there may be different results. If you screw this up it isn’t my fault. It’s happened to me, so it could happen to you too. Good Luck anyway! – Any images on this site are only representative of final products and do not represent any recipes found on this site.

These chowders are also Gluten Free. There is no flour in the recipes. Gluten Free Recipe Books Available. Gluten Free Cook Books CLICK HERE

HUGE NOTE: Please check the ingredients when using a clam base from a jar. It may contain wheat.
For Atkin’s Diet Atkin’s Diet Books or South Beach Diet South Beach Diet Books followers please refer to their websites for substitute recipes. By possibly eliminating the potatoes in these recipes it may qualify under both diets. Substitutes for some of the ingredients may be available. Check your ingredients carefully before making any determinations.


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