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Clam Chowder Recipe

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Clam Chowder

Making a delicious clam chowder at home is easier than you might think. With just a few simple ingredients like canned clams, potatoes, and bacon, you can whip up a comforting and hearty soup. This recipe is perfect for a cold night or when you’re craving something creamy and satisfying.

You’ll start by cooking the bacon until crispy, then sautéing vegetables until tender. The creamy base comes together with the addition of flour, broth, and cream. In less than an hour, you’ll have a pot of thick, flavorful clam chowder ready to warm you up.

Cooking this dish is not only budget-friendly but also customizable to your taste. Whether you serve it in a bread bowl or a regular bowl, this clam chowder is sure to hit the spot. Enjoy the rich, savory flavors with every spoonful!

Exact Ingredients (+ Possible Substitutes)

For a delicious clam chowder, you’ll need the following ingredients. Each ingredient’s purpose will also be noted, along with some possible substitutes.


  • Fresh clams or canned clams work well.
  • For a vegan option, substitute with seitan.

Clam Juice:

  • Adds a briny flavor.
  • If unavailable, use vegetable stock with a splash of soy sauce for depth.


  • Russets or Yukon Gold are ideal.
  • You can swap with sweet potatoes for a slightly different taste.


  • Yellow onion is preferred.
  • Shallots can be used as a replacement.


  • Adds crunch and flavor.
  • If you don’t have celery, use leek or fennel.


  • Adds color and natural sweetness.
  • Parsnips can substitute for a similar effect.


  • Adds smokiness and depth.
  • Vegans can use smoked tempeh or coconut bacon.


  • Used for richness.
  • Margarine or olive oil can be substituted.


  • Thickens the chowder.
  • Cornstarch can be used instead.


  • Gives the chowder a creamy texture.
  • Coconut milk or soy milk are good dairy-free options.

White Wine:

  • Enhances the flavor.
  • Use a bit of apple cider vinegar if wine isn’t preferred.

Thyme and Bay Leaves:

  • Essential herbs for depth.
  • Rosemary and parsley can be alternatives.

Here’s a table to summarize:

Clam JuiceVeg. stock + Soy
PotatoesSweet Potatoes
CeleryLeek, Fennel
BaconSmoked Tempeh
ButterOlive Oil, Margarine
Milk/CreamCoconut Milk, Soy
White WineApple Cider Vinegar
Thyme/BayRosemary, Parsley

These substitutions ensure everyone can enjoy a tasty bowl of clam chowder tailored to their needs.


  1. Prepare Vegetables
    Chop the potatoes, carrots, celery, and onions.

  2. Cook Vegetables
    Place your chopped veggies into a large skillet. Pour in clam juice and add water until everything’s covered. Cook on medium-low heat until tender.

  3. Make the Base
    In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Add chopped onions and celery; cook for 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.

  4. Combine Ingredients
    Drain clams, saving their juice. Add the clam juice, water, thyme, bay leaf, and chopped potatoes to the pot. Simmer until potatoes are just tender, about 5-6 minutes.

  5. Cook Bacon
    In a Dutch oven or large pot, cook bacon over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels, saving the bacon drippings.

  6. Add Pork
    Add butter to the drippings and then add bacon or salt pork. Cook until fat is rendered and pork is browned. Remove pork with a slotted spoon.

  7. Final Steps
    Add clams to the pot. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook for another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chowder is thick and creamy.

  8. Serve
    Ladle into bowls and top with crispy bacon bits. Serve hot. Enjoy your delicious clam chowder!

Tips, Tricks & Storing


  • Cook Bacon First: Start by sautéing diced bacon. This adds a smoky flavor and provides fat to cook the onions and garlic.

  • Use Fresh Clams: If possible, use fresh clams for the best flavor. If using canned clams, save the juice for cooking.

  • Don’t Overcook Potatoes: Make sure to cook the potatoes until they are just tender. Overcooking can make them mushy.

  • Thicken with a Roux: For a creamy texture, whisk flour into melted butter to create a roux. Slowly add this to your chowder.


  • Add Corn: Fresh or frozen corn adds a natural sweetness and extra texture.

  • Mix Creams: Combine heavy cream with some clam broth or chicken broth for a richer flavor.

  • Make Ahead: Prepare the chowder a day in advance. Flavors meld and it tastes even better the next day.


  • Refrigerate: Store your clam chowder in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It stays good for up to 3-4 days.

  • Freeze: For longer storage, freeze the chowder. Use freezer-safe containers and leave some space at the top to allow for expansion. It keeps well for up to 3 months.

  • Reheat Gently: To reheat, warm the chowder on the stove over low heat. Stir occasionally to prevent it from sticking or separating. Avoid using the microwave to prevent uneven heating.

Recipe Variations & Serving Suggestions

Recipe Variations

  • Bacon or Salt Pork: Adding bacon or salt pork gives a smoky flavor. Sauté until crispy and use the fat for cooking your vegetables.

  • Corn Addition: For a touch of sweetness, consider adding fresh or frozen corn kernels. This adds a unique twist to traditional clam chowder.

  • Spices and Herbs: Different herbs such as thyme and bay leaf can enhance the flavor. Don’t forget a dash of pepper to taste.

  • Thick and Creamy: Use flour to create a roux with butter, making your chowder thicker. Combine with half-and-half or heavy cream for extra richness.

  • Veggie Boost: Sauté onions, celery, and even leeks until they are soft. They add a nice texture and flavor base for your chowder.

Serving Suggestions

  • Bread Bowls: Serve your clam chowder in a hollowed-out bread bowl. It’s both delicious and practical.

  • Crackers: Oyster crackers or crispy breadsticks on the side are classic choices.

  • Garnishes: Top with chopped chives, a sprinkle of crispy bacon, or a drizzle of olive oil for an extra touch.

  • Salad Pairing: A light green salad with a tangy vinaigrette pairs well with the creamy chowder.

Try these variations and serving ideas to make your clam chowder meal even more enjoyable!