New England Clam Chowder

in Dinner, Soups

There’s Clam Chowder and then there’s Clam Chowder, you know? The first time I had real, legit clam chowder was in Boston at a seafood restaurant that only locals went to; it was freezing, raining and the middle of August. Normal Boston attitude. The clam chowder tasted like the fresh, cold, dark ocean…with lots and lots of cream. YES!

I was only in that city for two eventful days and I literally remember nothing but that clam chowder. It was an important event in my life.

Fresh clams available at the fish market and cold (Los Angeles) temperatures make New England Clam Chowder the next logical step. Please do this, too.

If you can’t buy fresh clams, you’re more than welcome to use canned ones.

This recipe below makes it so there’s no need to buy clam juice; we’re makin’ it!

Water + clams + salt = clam juice. That’s it.

This soup has just the right amount of pancetta–not too much so it overwhelms the clam chowder.

And if you’re not in the mood for pancetta, skip it. I made this soup for my parents without it and it was super delicious.

The potatoes give it a bit of heft that you need in these blistering winter months.

The frozen corn adds some nice freshness. And the tarragon works wonders with the clams. I just love tarragon.

This soup is surprisingly pretty easily to bring together; I’d say you could make this in under an hour. And pretty inexpensive, too.

I hope you like!

New England Clam Chowder

Yield: 4 - 5 servings

New England Clam Chowder


  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 18 little neck clams
  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tbls butter
  • 4 tbls all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 small red pound potatoes, cut into a small dice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 5 leaves tarragon
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup frozen corn
  • Salt
  • Oyster Crackers (optional)


  1. Fill a medium bowl with water and add 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour; mix until flour is dissolved. Add the clams and allow them to sit for 30 minutes. In this time, the clams will gorge on the flour, releasing any sand and/or grit. Rinse the clams thoroughly.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium pot, combine the water and salt; bring to a simmer. Gently add the clams and cover, steaming the clams for 4-5 minute and removing the clams as they open. Any clams that have remained closed (I had one), discard. The water the clams were steamed in is our clam juice! Pour the clam juice through a sieve into a measuring cup. Reserve 2 cups. Next, remove the meat from each of the clams and dice. Set the clam juice and clams aside.
  3. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat a tablespoon of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the pancetta and cook on both sides for 3-4 minutes and until golden brown. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and drain on a bed of paper towels. Next, add the onions and leeks and cook until they're translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Melt the butter atop the onions. Once melted, add the flour, mixing the two together and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the reserved clam juice and heavy cream; bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. With a piece of kitchen twine, tie the tarragon and bay leaf together. Mix in the tarragon/bay leaf gardin, potatoes, Worcestershire and hot sauce and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Fold in the pancetta and corn. Salt to taste (I needed no additional salt), and serve warm with oyster crackers.

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Jess January 9, 2013 at 12:21 am

I had a bowl of clam chowder in Boston over the holidays, and I had forgotten how fantastic it is to eat a bowl of that warm, creamy stuff on a really cold day. It’s always nice to discover that something you’ve only ever had a restaurant is not all that difficult to recreate at home – I’m looking forward to trying this!


Little Kitchie January 9, 2013 at 4:21 am

I’m going to have to give this one a go… not as complicated as I would have imagined! Thanks for sharing!


robyn January 9, 2013 at 5:02 am

mm,mm,mm,mm, mm


Bev @ Bev Cooks January 9, 2013 at 5:50 am

I like it! I really really like it!

But I’m not joking this is rad.


Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough January 9, 2013 at 6:10 am

OH, clam chowder! This is what my dreams are made of!


christin January 9, 2013 at 7:14 am

This is my favorite and randomly, mostly because someone hates me, I am allergic to clams. It’s like a death sentence!


joanna January 9, 2013 at 7:31 am



dana January 9, 2013 at 8:08 am

I think I just cried a little. This looks AMAZING.


Bridget @ Champagne Frosting January 9, 2013 at 8:48 am

Of course today is an overcast and cold day in Boston, and I could really use some soup to warm me up! This recipe looks delicious!!


Tina January 9, 2013 at 9:15 am

This looks delicious! And since it’s freezing in CT, all we seem to be eating lately is soup. Sounds like a win!


april January 9, 2013 at 9:27 am

so great!! where is the restaurant you went to for the stuff when you were here??


Adrianna January 10, 2013 at 8:42 am

I actually don’t remember. But I know it was along the coast, North of the town Scituate.


Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) January 9, 2013 at 9:59 am

There is nothing better than chowder. I adore it. I can’t tell you how much I have wanted to make a bowl from scratch before.


sandra January 9, 2013 at 10:36 am

this looks so good. I love a good creamy clam chowder.


Sara B January 9, 2013 at 10:56 am

This looks great! I’m lactose intolerant, but I miss the clam chowder I use eat when I was a kid (before I knew/cared about lactose intolerant). Your recipe makes it look so easy that I am tempted to try making it with unsweetened soy and maybe a little potato starch to thicken it. I’m wondering if anyone reading has ever tried to make clam chowder with soy milk?


Leisa January 9, 2013 at 11:09 am

One of my favourite things in the world is Clam Chowder! This looks so good–the addition of corn gives it that little bit of sweetness that I love… this might just be dinner tonight :-) Thank you!


Christina @ The Beautiful Balance January 9, 2013 at 12:31 pm

LOVE that you used fresh clams! This looks amazing, my boyfriend will love this recipe :)


Katie @ Blonde Ambition January 9, 2013 at 12:38 pm

What a beautiful soup! Such simple ingredients too. Plus I think everything is better with bacon/pancetta :)


Michelle January 9, 2013 at 1:49 pm

De-freakin’-licious! Fresh clams make alllllllllllllll the difference [the cream doesn’t hurt either].


Bernadette @ Now Stir It Up January 9, 2013 at 2:26 pm

I would LOVE to have clam chowder in Boston (really anywhere in New England works). I have had clam chowder in Seattle and I die everytime I eat it. So yummy. For some reason I always think of clams being so involved, but you really make it sound simple. This is going on my must make list!


Stefanie @ Sarcastic Cooking January 9, 2013 at 7:51 pm

I want this sooooo badly! I am going to have to make a special trip to the fish monger to get me some fresh clams!!!


Jayne January 9, 2013 at 9:11 pm

It’s probably my favourite creamy soups to have. We have no other option other than having the canned Campbell’s kind but I see now that I can make my own. And so easy too!


Adrianna January 10, 2013 at 8:43 am

I’ve had the canned Campbell’s version so many times, but the real stuff doesn’t compare!


Tina January 10, 2013 at 7:35 am

Wow! Very intimating but u make it look so easy.
How’s doggie life? More pics pls!


Adrianna January 10, 2013 at 8:44 am

I’m going to do a post all about Amelia’s first few weeks with me. Coming soon!


Mandie @ Oh So Decadent January 10, 2013 at 9:53 am

Nothing like a bowl of creamy clam chowdah on a cold winter’s day. Wonderful idea for this time of the year!


KateSouth January 10, 2013 at 9:42 pm

Such perfect winter comfort food. Looks delicious!


The Food Hound January 12, 2013 at 8:19 am

I have two recipes for NE Clam Chowdah to try, and this makes three!! I am SO intimidated by clams, oysters and mussels and I have no idea why. You do make it look easy!! We have a good seafood market here, so I’m out of excuses. The tarragon is a really cool addition. The hubs is from Bahhhston, so he would drool for days if he knew this were on the agenda!


Allison Day January 14, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Literally two minutes ago, I was looking at a recipe for cheddar biscuits and thinking, “I want to make some clam chowder to go with these biscuits…” and then I came across this recipe. Sounds delicious – looks like the next thing I’ll be cooking is clam chowder and cheddar biscuits! 😀


Kristina January 15, 2013 at 4:21 pm

I made this last night with canned clams since I couldn’t find any fresh ones at my grocery store, still tasted great thanks for the recipe! Also used half-and-half instead of heavy cream to cut a few calories and the broth didn’t thicken up as nicely as I would have wanted to, more flour next time, but overall a great recipe, easy to follow, and college student budget-friendly. About to reheat the leftovers for dinner, can’t wait! Thanks!


Michelle Farley January 17, 2013 at 7:33 am

It looks amazing – thanks for the recipe. Will definitely have to try it out!



Aimee January 29, 2013 at 10:38 am

As a native New Englander and assistant editor at Yankee Magazine (authority on all things New England), I think your chowder sounds and looks AMAZING! Glad you were able to make your chowdah memory a reality in your own kitchen! Yum!


Sue March 9, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Fantastic recipe! Made a few changes – added white wine during cooking. Sautéed diced pancetta and sprinkled it on top of soup with fresh, chopped parsley. Heaven!


Sarah July 25, 2013 at 5:28 am

I don’t like clam chowder or any other kind of seafood soup but I can just imagine how fantastic this would be, I will definitely be giving this New England one a try! Thanks! I had featured u in the post of Top 7 Gorgeous Recipes of Seafood on AllFreshRecipes, ur renewly posts will be paid close attention to!


Sabrina @ Familynano November 13, 2016 at 6:23 am

Wow that looks thick and yummy, Adrianna!
I’ve never cooked my own clams either. I need to pull up my big girl pants and give it a try. I’m pinning this for when that happens!


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