Bacon and Clam Chowder recipe
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- Dish type
- Seafood chowder
- Clam chowder
A delicious and hearty soup that is guaranteed to warm you up during the cold winter months. Serve with fresh crusty bread.
551 people made this
- 4 rashers streaky bacon, diced
- 240g chopped onion
- 350ml water
- 625g peeled and cubed potatoes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- ground black pepper to taste
- 750ml single cream
- 50g butter
- 2 (280g) tins baby clams, juice reserved and finely chopped
MethodPrep:15min ›Cook:30min ›Extra time:45min › Ready in:1hr30min
- Place diced bacon in large stock pot over medium-high heat. Cook until almost crisp; add onions and cook 5 minutes. Stir in water and potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and cook uncovered for 15 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
- Pour in single cream and add butter. Stir clams and 1/2 of the clam juice into the soup. Cook for about 5 minutes or until heated through. Do not allow to boil.
Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(666)
Reviews in English (505)
My 5 star rating comes with a caveat. After reading several reviews complaining about a)the potatoes not being thoroughly cooked enough, b) it was too watery, and c) it wasn't "clammy" enough, I made the following modifications to the recipe:1) Rather than cooking the potatoes uncovered, I covered them. Even doing so required a full 20 minutes to soften the potatoes, and2) Rather than throw out half of the clam juice, I added it all. But not before I put 2 tablespoons of flour in it for thickening. After adding, I brought it back to a boil and stirred until "the desired thickness was acheived"My wife, a New England clam chowder aficionado (I prefer Manhattan-style) proclaimed it to be the best she's ever had. SCORE!!-28 Nov 2007
Reading the reviews before making this recipe I made the following changes: I used bottled clam juice instead of the water (1 ½ cups); 2 cups half-and-half and one-cup heavy cream instead of 3 cups half-and-half, and 3 - 10oz. cans of clams. The other adjustment I made was to use 1-cup ham instead of bacon as I find that bacon gets to soggy in soups, the ham is a perfect substitute and give the soup a bit more bite.-11 Oct 2002
I was looking forward to this recipe and followed it exactly. I made no changes and was very disappointed with how it turned out. The soup was very watery and had an unusual texture. I also think it was just a tad bit too chunky for my tastes (cook the potatoes longer?). I plan on looking for additional clam chowder recipes to try and leave this one alone.-20 Feb 2006
- 6 thick bacon slices, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 large carrots, peeled, chopped
- 1 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
- 3/4 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 8-ounce unpeeled white-skinned potato, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3 6 1/2-ounce cans chopped clams in juice
- 1 8 3/4-ounce can corn kernels, drained
- Chopped fresh parsley
- Cook bacon in large saucepan over medium heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour out all but 3 tablespoons drippings from pan. Add next 4 ingredients to pan sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over stir 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add milk to pan, stirring constantly. Bring to boil reduce heat to medium and cook until slightly thickened, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes, clams with juice, and drained corn. Bring to boil reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are tender, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Divide soup among bowls, sprinkle with bacon and parsley, and serve.
Nutritional analysis provided by Bon Appétit
- 4 slices bacon
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 cup bottled clam juice
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 2 (6 ounce) cans minced clams
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup heavy cream (Optional)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
In a large saucepan over medium high heat, fry the bacon until crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels, reserving the bacon fat in the pan, crumble and set aside.
In the same saucepan with the bacon fat, saute the onion and potatoes for 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and stir well to coat.
Pour in the clam juice, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
Add the half-and-half and minced clams and season with salt and pepper to taste. Finally, whisk in the heavy cream, if desired. Allow to heat through, about 5 minutes. Garnish with the parsley and crumbled bacon. (Note: Do not boil if adding cream.)
Scrub clams well under running water and set in a large bowl. Cover with cold water and add enough salt to make water taste salty like the sea. Let clams stand for about 30 minutes, then lift from water and rinse. Inspect soaking water: if there is sand on the bottom of the bowl, discard water, rinse bowl well, and repeat soaking procedure until sand no longer accumulates on bottom of bowl.
Meanwhile, place stock in a large liquid measuring cup and sprinkle gelatin over the top. (See note).
Add bacon to Dutch oven and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until bacon is crisp and fat has rendered, about 7 minutes. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.
Add wine, bring to a simmer, and cook until alcohol smell has cooked off, about 4 minutes. Add stock, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf and bring to a simmer.
Add clams. Cover and cook until clams begin to open, about 5 minutes. Using tongs, transfer clams to a large heatproof bowl as they open. If any clams don't open, transfer them to a separate bowl, and attempt to open them by sliding a knife between the shells: any clams that smell good can be added to the others (discard any that smell bad or are filled with mud). Allow clams to cool slightly.
Add potatoes to soup and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, remove clam meat from shells. Discard shells and roughly chop clam meat, collecting all juices that accumulate. Skim most of the fat from the surface of the soup.
Add clam meat back to soup along with any juices and season with salt. Transfer to bowls, garnish with parsley and serve.
How to make Thick and Chunky New England Clam Chowder
Hybridizing the best of two famous New England-style clam chowders
We have taken inspiration from two well known seafood restaurants to build this recipe. Our chunky New England clam chowder is a hybrid version of the east coast’s Legal Sea Foods chain and Seattle-based Ivar’s.
Legal Sea Foods’ chowder is well known because it has been served at every presidential inauguration since 1981. They have a reputation for super fresh seafood that meets high quality standards and even built one of the first quality control centers for fish processing.
This chowder is also sold at many retail locations in take home containers. When we taste tested this version, we were surprised because we didn’t think it had nearly enough clams. It seems by skimping on the main ingredient, they can offer it at much lower price than their restaurant version. We did like how it was nicely thick and creamy and is enhanced with Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce.
Ivar’s is a Seattle landmark restaurant and is known as much for its fish and chips as it is for its chowders. When we traveled to Seattle a few years back, we tried their New England-style clam chowder as part of their three chowder sampler, which also includes their smoked salmon and clamhattan chowders.
In their O-fish-al cookbook, Ivar’s shares their recipe, which we’ve heavily modified.
Fresh or canned clams, which to use?
We’re the northernmost of southerners, so while we have access to some great seafood from the Chesapeake Bay, we don’t exactly see a lot of fresh clams often in the store at good prices.
We thought about utilizing fresh clams to make our chowder more authentic until we saw this at Costco…
$21.79, not including the rest of the ingredients? We’re not trying to break the bank on this chowder, so we opted to go with canned clams.
Two cans of clams yields one cup of juice
We’re not saying don’t splurge, but for us the difference in taste is minimal for the price. Plus, you’ll save a lot of time you’d have spent cooking and removing the clam meat from the shell. You can get canned whole clams, but we decided chopped would save us even more time.
Let’s rundown the ingredients
- Red Potatoes: Unlike Russets, these keep their shape and won’t break down, making the chowder gritty. We cut them into 1/2 inch thick dices to make this extra chunky.
- Unsalted Butter and Half & Half: For extra richness and creaminess
- Bacon, plus extra for garnish: This goes a long way in flavoring the chowder.
- 2cans chopped clams: These save a lot of time as mentioned above.
- Salt and Freshly Ground BlackPepper
- Tabasco Sauce and Worcestershire sauce: These are the secret ingredients. Add for extra umami flavor.
- Flour (not pictured) and cornstarch: For thickening.
- Freshly gratednutmeg: Grate it over the top of your bowl.
- Freshly chopped parsley: For garnish
Chowder Power: Putting it all together
First you’re going to cook the bacon in a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven.
When the bacon is crisp and browned, add the garlic and stir until fragrant about 30 seconds.
Add in in the onion and celery and continue to sweat the vegetables.
Keep cooking until the vegetables are soft and onions are lightly browned and translucent.
Next, you’ll pour in the reserved clam juice and potatoes. Then pour in enough water to just cover the potatoes.
Bring the pot to a boil and then lower to a simmer for 20 minutes, covered, to allow the potatoes to cook through. Remove from heat when the potatoes are fork tender.
How do you thicken New England clam chowder?
This is the fun part. In addition to making this chowder extra chunky, this chowder is thickened twice, once with flour and butter in a roux and then at the end with cornstarch mixed with a tablespoon of water to finish.
In a separate saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and whisk in the flour. Keep stirring for about 3 minutes until it’s lightly golden.
Slowly pour in the half & half (warm it before pouring to prevent clumping) while constantly stirring until thickened. You now have a cream base.
Use a rubber spatula to move the cream base into the pot with the vegetables and whisk to combine.
It’s time to add the clams and season the chowdah! Stir in the Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, freshly grated nutmeg, fresh ground black pepper and kosher salt.
For even more thickness, we recommend stirring in a cornstarch slurry (1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp water), but this is totally up to you.
Now you’re ready to serve. Optionally you can garnish each bowl with some more chopped bacon bits and chopped parsley.
And don’t forget the oyster crackers!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this recipe. As always, comments are welcome and encouraged!
Want more seafood recipes to go with this chunky clam chowder? Try these:
Craving potatoes? Then try these recipes:
For fresh clams steaming is the method of choice. By adding a bit of liquid (plain water or clam juice work fine) to the pot after sweating my aromatics and adding the clams, I could get the suckers to steam open in a matter of minutes. I pull them out of the pot as their shells pop open, draining their liquid into the pot, then removing the flesh with a spoon before roughly chopping it.
In no time, you should have a pot full of flavorful clam liquid, and a pile of chopped clams on the side. Adding the clams immediately back to the pot is a mistake I've often made in the past. Clams are finicky little suckers. They'll go from sweet and tender to overcooked and rubbery in the blink of an eye, and cooking them for as long as it takes to soften a pot of potatoes is a one way ticket to Rubber City.
The solution? Save those clams for the end.
I chop up the clams, transfer them to a strainer set over a bowl (to collect any juices that drip out from inside), then set them aside until just before serving the chowder. If you're using canned or frozen clams, this is even easier—just dump the clams straight in during the last minute or two of simmering.
Now comes the real deep philosophical questions. How do you thicken a chowder properly? Currently, I'd been using a roux-based option. That is, a little flour cooked in the rendered bacon fat used to bind together and thicken the chowder as it simmers.
It's a method that works, if a smooth, homogenous liquid is all you're after. But it also creates that "award-winning" sludge effect, where the chowder becomes so thick and goopy that the flavors—those delicate flavors of clam and pork—are muddied. There has to be a better way.
My next thought was to use the thickening power of potatoes to act as a binder. I knew that starchier potatoes like russets are more likely to break down into a broth than waxier potatoes like reds or Yukon golds, but I gave all three a shot.
Russets were the way to go. They not only thicken the best, but they also have the most tender, potatoey texture in the finished dish. That said, with the elimination of the roux, none of the chowders came out particularly successfully. They inevitably ended up with a greasy, broken appearance and an off-putting curdled texture, like this:
Well a chowder (and all non-non-fat dairy, for that matter) is what we call an emulsion It's a stable mixture of two things that generally don't like to mix very well, in this case water, and fat derived both from the milk/cream, and from the pork. As a general rule, fat molecules like to stick together, while water molecules like to push them as far away as possible. In order to get a smooth, creamy chowder, you need to figure out a way to get them to play nicely together and integrate.
When you pour your milk out of the carton, it comes out as a homogenous, creamy mixture. This is because it's gone through a process called homogenization, in which the the milk is forced at high pressure through a super-fine mesh. This breaks the fat into ultra-tiny droplets, each one of which gets completely surrounded by water molecules, preventing them from rejoining.
Think of the fat as a small group of 49ers fans stuck in a bar in Baltimore. Let them in as a group, and they'll stick together. But let them in one at a time, and it becomes much more difficult for them to find each other, leading to a more homogenous mix in the bar.
Now, let's say that a few of those 49ers fans happen to find each other, forming a small group. Suddenly, that group is much more visible to the rest of the 49ers fans, causing them to get drawn towards it. Eventually, you'll find that very rapidly, your balanced mix is broken, your 49ers fans once again forming a distinct blob in the sea of Ravens fans.
Similarly with an emulsified liquid, disturbing this careful mix even slightly—by, say, heating it—can cause the fat to rapidly separate out from the liquid. What's worse is that once a bit of fat starts to coalesce, it can quickly trigger all the fat to coalesce. So how does one keep an emulsion stable?
One way is to use a roux, which adds flour particles to the mix that physically impede fat droplets from coalescing. But we've already eliminated that option.
What about using the potatoes better?
At first, I tried adding a few very thin slices of potato to the mix, figuring they'd break down into individual starch granules relatively rapidly in the broth.
It didn't work. The chowder was still broken.
Alright, what if instead of waiting for the potatoes to break down naturally, I give them a bit of mechanical aid?
I cooked up another batch, this time forcing the potatoes through a potato ricer and whisking the resulting puree into the broth.
No good. The broth was lumpy, off-puttingly grainy, and to top it off, still broken.
Next, I figured that perhaps my cooking method had something to do with the broth constantly breaking. I know that vigorous heating can cause cream to separate. I also know that the exact ratio of cream to milk, and when in the process the cream is added can have a big impact on how its fat and water content behaves.
I attempted a dozen more versions, adjusting milk to cream ratios (broken).
. starting some with just milk and finishing with cream (still broken).
. using slightly lower amounts of roux (pasty tasting up until the roux is nearly eliminated, in which case, broken).
. to using only broth to cook the vegetables and finishing with cream and milk.
. and all the variations in between.
Failure after failure after failure.
It's not that any of the chowders were bad, per se, certainly the flavor of the broth was superior to the vast majority of restaurant versions, and the texture of the clams and potatoes was spot on. It's just the liquid that suffered appearance and texture-wise without the roux to hold it together.
Then I realized: Perhaps preventing it from breaking is not the way to go about this. Why not just let the darn stuff break, and fix it later?
For my next batch, I made a chowder using the most succesful technique I had attempted thus far, cooking the potatoes and vegetables in milk and adding the cream at the end. This time, instead of just stirring the chopped clams into the broken end result, Instead, I strained the chowder through a fine mesh strainer and dumped the liquid into my blender, figuring that the violent mechanical action of the blender should be powerful enough to break up those fat droplets, as well as to pulverize a few of the potato cells that may have made their way in there, releasing their starch and helping to keep the mixture homogenous.
It worked like a charm. What came out of the blender was a rich, creamy, perfectly smooth liquid that tasted of clams, pork, and dairy. Not too thick, not too thin, not pasty in the slightest. I poured the liquid back over my strained solids, added the chopped clams, reheated the whole deal, and season it.
Am I overcomplicating things here? Perhaps. But I don't think so.
Indeed, I believe that if a traditional dish can be improved using modern techniques and equipment while still maintaining their historic and cultural core, then it is our duty to do so. Chowders have been changing steadily for the past several hundred years, which, incidentally, means that anyone who tells you "that's not real clam chowder" or "chowder needs this or that" is, frankly, full of it. Why should we now choose to freeze chowders in time, when more than ever before, we have an understanding of the hows and whys of cooking?
What ended up in my bowl was more than just the platonic ideal of my childhood Cape Cod memories, it was a dish with a real sense of history about it. Some folks have tried to argue that barbecue is the only true regional American cuisine The only dish with an identity in both time and place. Well I have a bowl of chowder here that begs to differ.
The only detail remaining? Oyster crackers. Chowder needs oyster crackers. It simply wouldn't be a real clam chowder without'em.
Nothing quite beats a fresh bowl of chowder. I love this recipe with the fresh clams and bacon. It tastes so good with a nice loaf of sourdough bread.
- 1 lb fresh clams
- 5 slices of bacon
- 2 cans chopped clam,(reserve clam juice)
- 1/3 cup butter
- 1 onion diced
- 2 stalk celery chopped
- 3 medium potatoes peeled and cubed
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 TBSP fresh parsley
- sourdough bread to serve with chowder
Pan fry bacon until fully cooked. Remove and chop. Reserve half for garnish later. Add the other half into pan and melt butter, add minced onion and minced garlic. Cook on medium heat until onions start to become translucent. Add potatoes and celery cook for 5 more minutes.
Add two TBSP of flour. Add clam juice reserved from canned clams. Stir in wine, when wine reduces by half. Gradually add milk stirring continuously. Once all milk has gone into pan add bay leaves and sprigs of thyme. Bring Chowder to boil, add lid and simmer 20 minutes or until potatoes are cooked. While simmering, steam fresh clams. Add water to saucepan so it reaches about 3 inch from bottom, boil. Add fresh clams and steam until all clams open. Do not use any clams that do not open.
Save 8-10 of the fresh clams in shells to add to each individual bowl. Add canned clams, and the remaining fresh clams already prepared previously by removing clams from the shells and add into soup. Bring soup to simmer and cook for a couple of minutes.
Add 2-3 clam shells to each bowl, add chowder, top with bacon, and fresh parsley and serve with bread. Enjoy!
- 8 oz. thick-sliced bacon, cut into ½&rdquo pieces
- 1 medium sized onion, petite diced (¼&rdquo)
- ½ C carrots, peeled and petite diced (¼&rdquo)
- ½ C celery, peeled and petite diced (¼&rdquo)
- 5 C Yukon gold or white potatoes, peeled and medium diced (3/4&rdquo), about 5 medium-sized potatoes
- ½ tsp marjoram
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ tsp freshly cracked pepper
- 4½ C clam juice or stock
- 1/3 C butter
- ½ C all-purpose flour
- 2 C whole milk
- 1 can whole baby clams (10 oz.) , drained
- 2-3 Anaheim or poblano peppers
Heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is deep brown and crispy, about 6 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the pan and place on a paper towel lined plate. Pour any excess bacon grease in the pan into a separate container, return the pan to heat and add the onion, carrots and celery, sautéing for 4 minutes, until the vegetables soften.
Add the potatoes, stir well, cover and let cook for 4 minutes, lifting the lid and stirring once to prevent any sticking or burning.
Add the marjoram, salt, pepper and clam juice and stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir once, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook without stirring for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender.
While the soup cooks, roast the peppers. Place clean, dry, whole peppers over a medium flame from a gas stove (Alternatively BBQ or broil them) without turning until the skin is blistered and charred. Then, using tongs, rotate peppers to another side and blister and char the other side. Continue turning until all sides are charred, about 4 minutes.
Place peppers in a zip top bag and seal. Let rest for 10 minutes.
Remove peppers from bag and slip the charred skins off with your fingers. Slice the roasted pepper flesh into thin strips, removing seeds as you go and place pepper strips in a bowl.
When the potatoes are cooked and tender, remove the lid from the pan. In a medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and whisk constantly for 90 seconds. Slowly pour the whole milk into the flour and butter and whisk continuously to remove any lumps while the roux thickens.
Once the roux is thick and lump-free, about 3 minutes, pour into the stockpot with the potatoes and stir with a wooden spoon. It will take a few minutes for the roux to incorporate into the broth, but be patient and stir gently and continuously.
Once the broth looks uniform, add the clam and bacon and allow to heat through for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately, accompanied by roasted peppers.
Clams: I use canned clams for convenience, price and availability. I recommend buying whole, baby clams (affiliate link), since they're the next best thing to fresh clams. You can substitute chopped clams, but the pieces will be smaller.
Draining and rinsing the canned clams gets rid of chemicals and excess sodium.
Bottled clam juice: This has no additives and less salt than the juice in cans of clams. Don't worry, the chowder will be seasoned perfectly!
Potatoes: Feel free to use russet, Yukon gold or red potatoes. Some people claim russet is best for chowder, but I've had success with other varieties too.
Onions: Use yellow or red for a stronger flavor, or white for a more mild taste. Don't use sweet onions, because they'll make the soup too sweet.
Bacon: This brings a wonderful, smoky accent to the chowder, but you can skip it if needed.
Cream: We're using just enough to provide a creamy texture, without going overboard.
Milk: I use 1% milk, which works really well with the cream. If you prefer a richer chowder, you can use 2% or whole milk.
We love our chowder this lightened up way, though, and don't miss a thing.
Flour: I use all-purpose flour to thicken the chowder. You could use gluten-free flour, if needed.
Bob&rsquos Bacon Potato Clam Chowder
Bob&rsquos Bacon Potato Clam Chowder, a classic New England recipe, makes a comforting, delicious meal for the whole family! Bacon renders, then an onion cooks in the rendered fat. Add flour and butter to create a roux, then add clam juice and whole clams! When the mixture thickens, add milk, potatoes and water. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer until the mixture coats the back of the spoon. Perfect for any season, this chowder sings of the sea.
- 8 oz. bacon, chopped fine
- ½ white onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
- 2 lbs. chopped clams (fresh or frozen if frozen, these must be defrosted)
- 8 oz. clam juice
- 1 qt. 2% milk
- 2 russet potatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces and cooked until al dente
- 12 oz. water
- Salt and white pepper to taste
- In a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat, render the bacon.
- Once the bacon has rendered, remove the meat. (We won&rsquot use this in our recipe, but if you want, you can let it drain on a paper towel and use as a garnish with the chowder is finished.) Leave the bacon fat in the pan.
- Add the onion, stirring until the onion is coated in the bacon fat. Cook until the onion softens, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the butter, stirring until it melts.
- Measure in the flour to create the roux. Stir the onion, bacon fat, butter and flour together. Let the flour cook until slightly browned, about 5 minutes.
- Lower the heat to the lowest setting. Add the clam juice and the chopped clams to the Dutch oven. Heat slowly as the soup thickens.
- Add the milk, the pre-cooked potatoes and the water. Season with salt and white pepper.
- Slowly heat the chowder over medium heat until the proper consistency. Please take caution that you to not bring to a boil because of the dairy products used in this recipe. The finished chowder should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If the soup gets too thick, add a little more milk to thin it out to proper consistency.
- Serve warm with oyster crackers, and enjoy!
Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.
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