Easy New England Clam Chowder Recipe: Such a comforting, satisfying dish! Creamy, thick, & robust, with tons of ocean-y flavor!

Clam chowder in a gray stoneware bowl.

I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but here in the Philly area it’s like a switch suddenly flipped and the seasons changed!

It’s been cold and rainy, and I’m just like, what happened?

Now it’s soup weather, and all I want to eat is steamy, comforting bowls of cream of mushroom soup, French onion soup, and broccoli cheese soup.

Or better yet, this clam chowder recipe. Because it tastes like the ocean (only better!) and it brings back all those happy summer memories of being down the shore!

You’re going to love how thick and hearty this clam chowder is. It’s hot and comforting and loaded with chunky veggies and seafood, all swimming in a savory, creamy broth. It’ll warm your bones and make you feel so cozy!

Clam chowder recipe cooked and presented in gray bowls with a text overlay above that reads "Easy Clam Chowder."

WHAT DOES IT TASTE LIKE?

This recipe is for New England clam chowder, aka: the white clam chowder.

So it’s very creamy and velvety in texture. There are onions, celery, herbs, and pepper, so it has a very savory, familiar taste that reminds me a little of Thanksgiving.

But there’s also lots of clams plus their liquid, so there’s this additional briny, seafood-y flavor that’s very prominent.

Not to mention a subtle hint of smokiness from the bacon, that complements the clams in the most delicious way!

And a generous amount of chunky potatoes that make this soup feel so substantial and nourishing. Honestly, it’s a full meal in one pot, and nothing could be cozier.

HOW TO MAKE CLAM CHOWDER

This recipe is very quick and easy to make. Honestly, the biggest thing is just waiting for the potatoes to cook. Other than that it should only take you around 15 or 20 minutes.

Start by cooking a few slices of chopped bacon in your soup pot. You want to render out all the fat and use that to cook the veggies in.

Cooking chopped bacon in a large pot.

So when the bacon starts looking crisp, fish it out with a slotted spoon and drain it on paper towels, leaving the fat behind in your pot.

Cooked celery and onions in a large pot.

Add the celery and onions, and continue to cook them over medium heat until the onions look translucent and the veggies are getting tender.

Now you’re going to make a roux. This is what will give your clam chowder that thick, hearty texture.

Add a little more fat to the pot, in the form of butter. Once that’s melted down, sprinkle in some flour and stir it all around until the celery and onions are coated in what looks like a thick paste.

Celery and onions coated in roux.

Next pour in the clam juice, and stir everything together. You should have a very thick liquid.

Vegetables, roux, and clam juice in a large Dutch oven.

Stir in the potatoes and season with salt and white pepper. If you only have black pepper, that’s fine too.

Vegetables, potatoes, and roux cooking in a large pot.

The next step is to work in the milk and cream. Add a little at a time at first, stirring after each addition. This will prevent lumps from forming. Nobody wants a lumpy chowder, right?!

Once the dairy’s in, add a bay leaf and a few sprigs of fresh thyme, and just let everything simmer over low heat until the potatoes are cooked through.

Adding herbs to clam chowder as it cooks.

The very last ingredient is the clams. I like to use minced clams in juice, but you can use chopped clams instead, or even whole clams that you’ve steamed yourself. I think that would make an absolutely stunning presentation!

Adding minced clams to clam chowder, along with their juice.

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the crispy bacon, a few more sprigs of thyme, and a handful of soup crackers.

Garnishing a bowl of clam chowder with soup crackers.

Ta-dah! It doesn’t get any more authentic than that, am I right? This is seriously the real deal.

IS IT HEALTHY

This recipe is loaded with veggies and potatoes, and protein-rich seafood. But I’ll let you judge for yourself! All the nutritional info is in the recipe card below.

If you’re looking to make a gluten-free clam chowder, swap out the flour for 1/3 cup of cornstarch.

And if you want it to be dairy-free, I’m not sure if it would taste quite the same but I’d imagine you could sub in your favorite plant-based milk (definitely unsweetened and unflavored!) and cream products.

I’d probably suggest oat milk and coconut cream? And olive oil instead of butter.

New England clam chowder served on a distressed wooden surface.

HOW TO SERVE IT

This soup is so chunky and satisfying, I think of it as a meal in itself.

But if you’d like to round things out a little more, serve it alongside some fresh greens lightly dressed with vinaigrette, and some homemade bread.

I’ve got tons of bread recipes, but here are a few of my favorites:

Or serve it in individual bread bowls! Now that would really be fantastic!

CAN YOU FREEZE IT?

If you have any leftovers, they can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days or so. This recipe reheats well in the microwave or in a pot on the stove.

Or if you’d like to make it ahead and freeze it, do everything but add the milk and cream. Pop it into an airtight, freezer-safe container, and it should keep for several months.

When you’re ready to serve it, thaw it in the fridge, then transfer it to a pot, stir in the milk and cream, and warm it up.

I suggest doing it this way because creamy soups will often separate and become grainy during the freeze/thaw process.

Easy clam chowder with bacon and soup crackers on top.

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New England Clam Chowder Recipe
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

Easy New England Clam Chowder Recipe: Such a comforting, satisfying dish! Creamy, thick, & robust, with tons of ocean-y flavor!

Course: Appetizer, Snack, Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: clam chowder, clam chowder recipe, how to make clam chowder, New England clam chowder, what is clam chowder
Servings: 4
Calories: 953 kcal
Ingredients
  • 6 slices bacon, roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion (medium), roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 8 ounces clam juice
  • 3 russett potatoes (medium), roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper (or to taste)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups cream
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 19.5 ounces minced clams (3 cans)
Instructions
  1. Cook the bacon in a large pot over medium heat, until crisp.

  2. Remove the bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon, allowing it to drain on paper towels.

  3. Cook the celery and onions in the bacon fat until translucent and tender.

  4. Add the butter and let it melt.

  5. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir it in until a thick paste forms.

  6. Stir in the clam juice. (As it cooks, it should form a very thick liquid.)

  7. Stir in the potatoes, salt, and pepper,

  8. Add the milk and cream, a little at a time, stirring to prevent lumps.

  9. Turn the heat down to low, add the bay leaf and thyme sprigs, and allow the soup to simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender.

  10. Stir in the clams in their juice, ladle the soup into bowls, and garnish.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

To make this chowder even thicker, use a stick blender to blend some of the veggies into the broth, while still leaving plenty of chunks.

Nutrition Facts
New England Clam Chowder Recipe
Amount Per Serving (0.25 batch)
Calories 953 Calories from Fat 621
% Daily Value*
Fat 69g106%
Saturated Fat 40g250%
Trans Fat 0.4g
Polyunsaturated Fat 5g
Monounsaturated Fat 20g
Cholesterol 200mg67%
Sodium 1413mg61%
Potassium 1210mg35%
Carbohydrates 65g22%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 14g16%
Protein 21g42%
Vitamin A 2497IU50%
Vitamin C 17mg21%
Calcium 288mg29%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.