Homemade Clam Chowder

by Kristen on May 10, 2011 · 23 comments

in Main Dishes, Recipes, Soup

Yes. In May.

I’m sorry. I know this would have been 62% more appropriate to post in January when we were all freezing (and when you were asking for the recipe!), but sometimes things just don’t work out the way we want them to.

And since I’m in charge of this here blog, I can do things like posting soup recipes in May.


This recipe is sort of a highly (highly) modified version of a recipe I got from All Recipes. I did try Cook’s Illustrated’s recipe for Clam Chowder, but after making it twice, I came to the conclusion that I just do not prefer bacon in my clam chowder.

Bacon is the bomb in Baked Potato Soup, but I cannot manage to love it in clam chowder.

So, this is a bacon-free clam chowder.

It is not a fat-free clam chowder. In fact, it calls for a stick of butter and and a quart of half and half. It tastes delicious, though, and really, if you’re looking for a low-calorie dish, clam chowder should probably not be on your radar.

I made this on a really busy day, so I don’t have step by step photos. It’s not super complicated, though, so I think you’ll be ok.

Basically, you’re going to make two different pots of stuff and then dump them all together in a big pot with the clams.

Or, if you are more brilliant than me, you’lluse a big pot for one of these mixtures and save yourself a dish.

To make the first pot, saute celery and onions until they’re soft. Add a minced clove of garlic and saute it for 30 seconds. Stir in a bottle of clam juice plus the juice from two cans of clams along with 4 cups of potatoes (I use red potatoes. Russets will be too mooshy.). Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.

To make the second pot, melt 1/2 cup of butter and stir in 1/2 cup of flour. Cook and stir it until it’s bubbly, and then gradually stir in 1 quart of half and half. Stirring regularly, bring it to a boil and boil for 1 minute.

Combine the potato mixture and the half and half mixture along with the clams. It looks like it won’t come together properly at first, but if you gently mix it, it will turn into a lovely, creamy soup.

Add pepper to taste and salt if you feel it’s necessary. I usually find that the butter and clam juice provide plenty of salt, but your mileage may vary.

Heat the soup just until it’s warm. Of course, I think you should serve it with some good bread. Braided Cheese Bread was my choice that day.

Clam Chowder
Printable Clam Chowder Recipe

1 cup chopped onion
1 cup celery
1 tablespoon butter
1 minced clove garlic
4 cups peeled and diced potatoes
1 bottle clam juice
2 10-ounce cans minced clams, drained with juice reserved

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 quart half and half
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
salt to taste

Saute onion and celery in butter until softened. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Add potatoes, clam juice (include juice reserved from cans). If necessary, add enough water to cover potatoes. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are soft.

In a large, heavy pot, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir in half and half, and bring to a boil, stirring regularly. Boil 1 minute. Add potato/clam juice mixture along with the sugar, black pepper, and reserved clams. Salt to taste. Heat to desired serving temperature.

Leave a Comment

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Erika May 10, 2011 at 9:27 am

Actually, I think your timing is perfect! Being from Mass, nothing screams summer in New England like a bowl of creamy clam chowder! :)


2 Jenessa May 10, 2011 at 10:21 am

This looks delicious and I have no problem with soup in May, in fact I made some last night. Anyway, it still keeps trying to snow where I live.


3 adventuresindinner May 10, 2011 at 10:27 am

This looks terrific! I may be onto this for the weekend.


4 Megg May 10, 2011 at 10:43 am

I made your potato soup this winter and it was AMAZING so I can only imagine this is as well! Unfortunately for me, we are trying to lose weight in my family and this is not going to help! :(
But I’m going to bookmark it anyway and remember it for when I either am not as worried about weight or am cooking for many people so I don’t have as many leftovers!


5 Elaine May 10, 2011 at 11:04 am

How funny – on Sunday (Mother’s Day), I made Thanksgiving Dinner. You and I certainly don’t go by the calendar!


6 Tanya May 10, 2011 at 11:27 am

It’s still cool here, so soup is welcome. I love a good (bacon-free) New England clam chowder – and other than the clams, it seems like this is fairly inexpensive to make. Mmmm, thanks for sharing this recipe!


7 Molly F. C. May 10, 2011 at 11:41 am

Soup looks delicious! On Mother’s Day we had prime rib and yorkshire pudding in this house. Not a typical May meal but we were having company so we pulled out all of the stops. Eating leftovers of it tonight which we’ll enjoy.


8 Tina (Tightwad Mom) May 10, 2011 at 12:11 pm

LOL! I made almost the exact same recipe last week (inspired by your menu, of course :))! The only hitch was that some of the kid’s started whining about how they don’t like clam chowder. So, in pure mother fashion, I threw the clams in the food processor and pureed them. Stirred them into the soup, and the everyone was raving about how yummy the “potato” soup was. God bless the person who invented the food processor, He/ She has made my life SO much easier!


9 Lori May 10, 2011 at 2:51 pm

I’m not sure there is ever a bad time for clam chowder. This looks soooooooo good. I have been craving soup like crazy this pregnancy, so I’m going to have to give this a try.


10 Karen@ Mom of Three Monkeys May 10, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Sign I need to go to bed early tonight — I read that you omit bacon and I thought, “Oh hooray, it’s a vegetarian recipe!” Yes, except for they, you know, CLAMS. :)


11 Susanna May 10, 2011 at 7:19 pm

hey I’ve been known to buy ice cream in the winter and make chili in August(I live in Houston) so if you want clam chowder in May go for it! Looks good but I’m drooling over the bread more I think!


12 WilliamB May 10, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Of course chowder isn’t supposed to have bacon! It’s supposed to have salt pork. And crushed soup crackers, which are a modern stand-in for ship’s biscuit which – believe me – you don’t really want to eat.

I was schooled in Proper New England Chowda so mine uses salt pork, crushed crackers (instead of flour), old potatoes (old taters dissolve more and help thicken the soup), and milk. Preferred version is corn.


13 Vicki May 10, 2011 at 10:34 pm

We had a record breaking cold day yesterday, and it just keeps raining, so it is perfect soup weather. We love clam chowder, but I do like bacon in mine. I also think the bacon helps disguise the clams for the little kids, they think they are chewing the bacon.


14 Karen S. May 10, 2011 at 10:54 pm

The “mooshy” cracks me up…is that how a cow says mushy? Lol.


15 Kristen May 11, 2011 at 8:04 am

Well, there’s a difference between “smush” and smooshy” and a difference between “mush” and “mooshy”.

I say words like that all the time. ;)


16 Shannon May 11, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Soup is good anytime of the year :) It is my favorite kind of meal so I do not mind your post at all!


17 Irene December 19, 2011 at 11:23 am

can you freeze this soup as I made is for Christmas eve day and that is five days from now? It is delicious and don’t want to spoil it.. or could it just be
kept in the refrigerator for all that time?

thank you.


18 Kristen December 19, 2011 at 6:30 pm

I’ve never tried freezing it before! I know that broth-based soups tend to freeze better than creamy soups, but I suppose this one might do ok. I just don’t know for sure.


19 Kay December 28, 2011 at 10:04 am

I love love love your blog. You blog is the first one I read when I get on line. I have gotten soooo many ideas, tips, recipes, coupons, books, songs, and interesting links. I am amazed at all the things you do. Thank you so much for this wonderful blog.


20 Brenda Fields January 20, 2013 at 11:08 am

I seldom follow recipes as written; however, I’m so glad I did with this one. Excellent recipe, perfect measurements. My daughter was a skeptic at first because she had never had Clam Chowder…she loved it!


21 Elise February 8, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Thank you for a bacon free perfected recipe it is superb and I appreciate all the work you did to refine a traditional fav of many


22 Nicole January 31, 2014 at 10:06 am

Oooh. I’d love to make my own clam chowder soup, rather than doctoring the canned variety. This looks yummy!

Quick question: How big is the bottle of clam juice? 6oz? 12oz? It’s not an ingredient that I’ve ever purchased, so I’m not familiar with it.


23 melissa October 24, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Delicious! my family LOVES it! I’ve been looking for a chowder with this consistency for quite a while, the perfect lunch for after a rainy soccer game in the fall in Canada! (although we do add bacon!). Have made it numerous times and it always turns out fantastic!


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