This easy New England Clam Chowder is thick and hearty, creamy, and so flavorful, with lots of goodies like salty pork and tender potatoes on every spoonful. Whip up a batch in 30 minutes and enjoy a big bowl on a chilly evening!
This Corn Chowder is also a regular at our table, using either, fresh, canned, or frozen corn, it’s a great year-round soup.
Easy New England Clam Chowder Recipe
Clam chowder may sound fancy, but it’s actually a very simple soup and easier to make at home than you might think, just using a few pantry items.
The two different types of clam chowders are New England and Manhattan. The New England version is dairy-based (using milk or cream), and is usually thick, made with potatoes. Manhattan is tomato-based and usually much thinner. Both delicious! But definitely not the same.
If given the choice, I go for the New England Clam Chowder every time, especially this recipe. My favorite part about this easy clam chowder recipe is it’s chunky! Seems like a lot clam chowders are thin, consisting mostly of the broth. But this one is loaded with tender potatoes, salty pork, and a lot of tiny clams. So every spoonful has goodies on it, leaving you satisfied.
Clam Chowder Recipe
Here are the clam chowder ingredients needed for this recipe:
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Clams: We use canned whole clams and reserve the juice for the soup broth. (See note below.)
- Salt pork: This ingredient is so awesome, and so underutilized! It has a more depth of flavor than bacon. But bacon is certainly delicious in clam chowder, too. (See note below.)
- Potatoes: Our preference is yukon gold potatoes because they’re so buttery, but really any potato works.
- Onion and Garlic: For aromatics and flavor. Use fresh garlic, for optimal results.
- Unsalted butter: Used to sauté the salt pork. Salt pork is already salty (thus the name!), so we prefer using unsalted butter.
- Half-and-half: This is simply equal parts heavy cream and whole milk. You can just use all whole milk, if preferred.
- Low-sodium chicken broth: To keep the saltiness in check, we use low-sodium broth. Vegetable broth can be used instead, if you need this to be pescetarian-friendly.
- All-purpose flour: To thicken the chowder.
- Seasonings: White pepper, dried thyme, Old bay, and bay leaves.
- Oyster crackers (optional): We always serve this soup with some crackers, but it’s purely optional.
- Fresh parsley: This is for additional flavor and color, used as garnish.
Fresh clams vs. Canned clams
A lot of clam chowder recipes call for fresh clams in their shell, which is wonderful, but for an at-home soup, I never want to deal with that. Canned clams are way cheaper, easier, and the best part is you get the juice that comes with them, which makes for a more delicious soup base.
What is salt pork?
I always use salt pork in my clam chowder, instead of bacon, which is salt-cured pork. It is usually prepared from pork belly, or sometimes even fatback. Salt pork looks like uncut slab bacon, but is fattier and cured longer, lending a stronger, saltier depth of flavor to recipes like this chowder.
It’s typically located with all the other pork products (diced ham, ribs, sausage, etc.) and comes in a small block. If you can’t find it, you certainly can sub in 6 slices of diced bacon and this chowder will still be delish!
How to Make Clam Chowder
This clam chowder soup is so so simple, but packed with flavor in every spoonful. Here’s a brief summary of how to make it:
(Scroll down to the printable recipe card for all the details and don’t miss the video below.)
- Cook the salt pork, onion, and garlic: In a dutch oven pot, sauté the pork and onion in butter until the pork is brown and crisp and onion has softened. Add in garlic and stir for 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Stir in flour: Stir in the flour until cooked and no white patches remain.
- Add in the liquids, potatoes, and seasonings: Add in the potatoes, half-n-half, chicken (or vegetable) stock, clam juice, old bay, white pepper, thyme, and bay leaves.
- Simmer: Bring to a simmer, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Reduce the heat and gently simmer until the potatoes are fork tender. Discard the bay leaves.
- Add the clams: Add the clams and cook for 1 minute longer to warm them through.
- Serve: Ladle the clam chowder soup into bowls and top with some crackers and a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley.
How to Store Homemade Clam Chowder
How long does clam chowder last? Allow any leftovers to cool, then transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. It will last for 3 days.
Can you freeze clam chowder? You can, but it’s not preferred in my opinion. Once thawed, the broth is cloudy and the potatoes tend to be mushy. But if you must freeze it, make sure it’s in an airtight freezer-safe container. It will keep in the freezer for 2 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge.
To reheat: You can reheat all of it at once on the stovetop over low heat until warmed through or in portions in the microwave.
More Soup Recipes:
- French Onion Soup
- Zuppa Toscana
- Chicken Noodle Soup
- One-Pot Beef Stroganoff Soup
- Sausage and Tortellini Soup
- Easy Tomato Soup
Easy Clam Chowder
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup diced salt pork
- 1 medium sweet onion , finely diced
- 1 clove garlic , minced
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 large potatoes , peeled and cut into small cubes
- 2 cups half-and-half (or whole milk)
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
- 1/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 14 ounce (2, 7 ounce cans) whole clams , drained, juice reserved
- oyster crackers , for serving
- fresh chopped parsley , for garnish
- In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
- Add the salt pork and cook until brown and crispy, only stirring a few times so it develops a nice crust, about 6 minutes.
- Add in the onion and saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Add in the garlic and stir for 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Stir in the flour until cooked off and lightly browned, about 1 minute.
- Add in the potatoes, half-n-half, chicken stock, clam juice, Old Bay, white pepper, thyme, and bay leaves.
- Bring to a simmer, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
- Discard the bay leaves.
- Add the clams and cook for 1 minute longer to warm them through. Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and top with some crackers and a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley.SEE NOTES BELOW.
- Half-n-Half is equal parts heavy cream and whole milk.
- You can sub in 6 slices of diced bacon for the salt pork, if desired.
- Cooking time may need to be adjusted depending on the size of your potato cubes.
- Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days.
- For more information and tips, refer to the full article.