Clam Chowder Recipe

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Clam Chowder Recipe



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Clam chowder is a classic American soup that has been enjoyed for generations. This creamy and hearty soup is a perfect comfort food, especially on a chilly day. With its rich flavor and comforting texture, clam chowder has secured a special place in the hearts and kitchens of many seafood enthusiasts. In this article, we will explore the history of clam chowder, its regional variations, and provide you with a delicious homemade clam chowder recipe that you can enjoy with your family and friends.

The History of Clam Chowder

The origins of clam chowder can be traced back to the early settlers in North America. The word “chowder” is believed to have derived from the French word “chaudière,” which referred to a large cooking pot. Early versions of clam chowder were simple and utilitarian, made with ingredients that were readily available in the region. Native Americans and European settlers both contributed to the development of this beloved dish.

One of the earliest documented recipes for clam chowder can be found in the 1832 edition of “The Cook’s Oracle” by William Kitchiner. This recipe included ingredients such as clams, salt pork, onions, and potatoes. Over time, clam chowder evolved, and regional variations emerged, each with its own unique twist on the classic recipe.

Regional Variations

Clam chowder is a dish that varies from region to region within the United States. Here are some of the most notable regional variations:

New England Clam Chowder

New England clam chowder is perhaps the most famous and iconic version of this dish. It is known for its creamy, white broth and the use of fresh clams, potatoes, onions, and salt pork. The creaminess of New England clam chowder comes from the addition of heavy cream or milk. It is typically served in a bread bowl or with oyster crackers.

Manhattan Clam Chowder

Manhattan clam chowder is a departure from the creamy New England version. Instead of a creamy base, this variation features a tomato-based broth. It includes clams, tomatoes, onions, celery, and sometimes carrots. Manhattan clam chowder has a slightly tangy and savory flavor profile, making it a favorite among those who prefer a lighter and tomato-forward soup.

Rhode Island Clam Chowder

Rhode Island clam chowder is a clear broth chowder that lets the flavor of the clams shine through. It is made with clear broth, clams, potatoes, onions, and sometimes bacon. This version is less creamy than New England clam chowder and provides a different experience for seafood lovers.

Long Island Clam Chowder

Long Island clam chowder is another regional variation that includes both tomatoes and cream. It combines the best of both worlds by incorporating the creamy texture of New England chowder with the tomato-based flavors of Manhattan chowder. It’s a delightful fusion of flavors that appeals to a wide range of tastes.

Homemade Clam Chowder Recipe

Now that we’ve explored the history and regional variations of clam chowder, let’s dive into making a delicious homemade clam chowder. This recipe is for a classic New England clam chowder, known for its creamy base and comforting flavors.


2 cups of chopped clams (fresh or canned)
4 slices of salt pork or bacon, diced
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups of diced potatoes
1 cup of diced celery
2 cups of water
1 bay leaf
2 cups of whole milk
1 cup of heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Oyster crackers (for garnish)


In a large soup pot, cook the diced salt pork or bacon over medium heat until it becomes crispy and releases its fat.

Remove the crispy salt pork or bacon from the pot and set it aside. Leave the rendered fat in the pot.

Add the chopped onions to the pot and sauté them in the rendered fat until they become translucent.

Add the diced potatoes, diced celery, and bay leaf to the pot. Stir everything together.

Pour in the water and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer until the potatoes are tender, which should take about 15-20 minutes.

Once the potatoes are tender, add the chopped clams (including the juice) to the pot. Stir well and let it simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Pour in the whole milk and heavy cream, stirring to combine. Simmer the chowder over low heat until it’s heated through but not boiling. Be careful not to let it boil, as it may curdle.

Season the chowder with salt and pepper to taste. Remember that the salt pork or bacon may have added some saltiness, so adjust accordingly.

Remove the bay leaf from the chowder.

Serve your homemade clam chowder hot, garnished with the crispy salt pork or bacon and oyster crackers.

Enjoy your homemade New England clam chowder with its creamy texture and rich flavors that warm both body and soul. It’s a delightful dish that pays homage to the history and tradition of clam chowder in America.

Clam chowder is a timeless and beloved dish that has a special place in American cuisine. Its history is a testament to the diverse influences that have shaped it over the years, resulting in regional variations that cater to different tastes. Whether you prefer the creamy goodness of New England clam chowder or the tomato-infused flavors of Manhattan chowder, there’s a version of clam chowder for everyone to enjoy. And with our homemade clam chowder recipe, you can bring the taste of the sea to your own kitchen and savor the comfort of this classic soup. So, grab your apron and get ready to make a bowl of clam chowder that will have your taste buds singing with delight.

Tips and Variations

While the classic New England clam chowder recipe we’ve provided is a delicious choice, there are some additional tips and variations you can explore to make your clam chowder even more special:

Fresh vs. Canned Clams: While fresh clams are ideal if you have access to them, canned clams are a convenient alternative. Just make sure to use high-quality canned clams to ensure a great flavor.

Add Some Herbs: Consider adding fresh herbs like thyme, parsley, or chives for an extra layer of flavor and freshness.

Spice it Up: If you like a bit of heat, a dash of hot sauce or a pinch of red pepper flakes can add some zing to your chowder.

Cheese Toppings: Sprinkle some grated cheddar or Parmesan cheese on top of your clam chowder for a delightful cheesy twist.

Seafood Medley: Experiment with different seafood combinations. You can add shrimp, crab meat, or even lobster to create a seafood medley chowder.

Gluten-Free Option: If you’re gluten-sensitive, use gluten-free flour or a cornstarch slurry instead of regular flour to thicken your chowder.

Vegetarian/Vegan Version: For a vegetarian or vegan clam chowder, you can substitute clams with mushrooms or artichoke hearts and use plant-based milk and cream alternatives.

Serving and Enjoying Clam Chowder

Clam chowder is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed in various settings:

Bread Bowl: Hollow out a crusty bread roll and ladle your clam chowder into the bread bowl for a unique and hearty presentation.

Side Dish: Serve clam chowder as a side dish with a seafood or grilled sandwich.

Appetizer: Serve smaller portions of clam chowder in cups or small bowls as an appetizer at parties or gatherings.

Main Course: Enjoy a larger bowl of clam chowder as a filling main course, accompanied by a salad or crusty bread.

Freezing for Later: Clam chowder can be frozen in airtight containers for later enjoyment. Just remember to cool it down before freezing, and it should be good for up to three months.

Pairing: Pair your clam chowder with a crisp white wine or a light beer for a well-rounded dining experience.

Clam chowder is a beloved American classic that has stood the test of time. Its rich history and regional variations reflect the diverse culinary heritage of the United States. Whether you’re savoring a bowl of creamy New England clam chowder, a tangy Manhattan version, or a clear and flavorful Rhode Island chowder, you’re indulging in a taste of tradition.

By following our homemade clam chowder recipe and exploring the various tips and variations, you can create a clam chowder that suits your taste and preferences. So, gather your ingredients, don your chef’s hat, and prepare to embark on a culinary journey that celebrates the deliciousness of clam chowder – a seafood lover’s delight that brings comfort and satisfaction to every spoonful.


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