Clam Chowder with Corn

Soup and StewChowderClam

This Clam Chowder is the bomb! It's a variation of a classic New England clam chowder recipe, and includes corn in addition to hard shell clams, potato, and cream.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Repeat after me: “Chow-DAH!”

That’s the way it should be said if you are anywhere in the vicinity of New England, which is the birthplace of this wonderful clam stew. The word “chowder” is thought to have been derived from “chaudière,” an old French term for cauldron, or a big cooking pot.

What Goes Into Clam Chowder?

Traditionally, chowder is made with salt pork, onions, potatoes, milk or cream, butter, and fish like cod or haddock, or clams. Many of the older recipes add some wine (Madeira) as well.

There’s a wonderful website I recommend called The New England Chowder Compendium which showcases a collection of historical chowder recipes dating back to the 1700s. Chowder is one of those things that is made in many different ways, and pretty much everyone thinks their way is best. It’s worth noting that the variations of this stew go back hundreds of years!

Pot of oysters after steaming

Clam Chowder with Corn

On one of my many visits to New England, we sampled clam chowders at practically every stop. The best chowder we had was in a little coffee shop in Concord, Massachusetts. The soup was creamy, but not overly so (some clam chowders can be such cream bombs), thickened a little with flour but not too much, and had tasty chunks of salt pork, along with chopped clams and lots of corn.

I loved it! Corn isn’t usually included in clam chowder, but believe me, it’s fabulous.

The recipe that follows below is my take on this clam chowder, with plenty of suggestions for substitutions. Even my father, who insists he doesn’t like clam chowder, loved this soup. Consider the recipe a guideline, and play with it to your liking.

What Kind of Clams to Use for Chowder

Clam chowder is best made with fresh clams (quahogs or cherrystones), but if you don’t have access to fresh clams, you can use clam juice and canned chopped clams.

If using canned clams, skip steps 1 and 2 of the recipe, and use 16 ounces of clam juice, and 1 1/2 to 2 cups of chopped clams, saving the liquid from the cans to add to the clam juice.

Bowl of New England Clam Chowder with Corn and Oyster Crackers

What Can I Substitute for Salt Pork?

Salt pork is traditionally used in chowder; it’s like salty slab bacon that hasn’t been smoked. You can easily substitute it with pancetta or bacon. If you don’t use salt pork, you may need to add more salt to the soup. If you use bacon, you’ll add a smoky note to the soup.

How to Thicken Clam Chowder

In this recipe I am using a scant one tablespoon of flour to help thicken the soup. Some people prefer their chowder to have a thinner soup base, if that’s you, please feel free to leave out the flour. If you would like your soup to be more thick, add more butter and an equal amount of flour in step 5, up to 1/4 of a cup.

Storing Clam Chowder

Eat your clam chowder within a 1 to 3 days — seafood doesn’t last as long! We do not recommend freezing this soup.

How do you like your clam chowder? Please let us know in the comments.

More Great Chowder Recipes:

Updated November 26, 2019 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle! No changes to the original recipe.

Clam Chowder with Corn Recipe

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8

This recipe uses fresh clams. If you don't have access to fresh clams, you can use clam juice and canned chopped clams. In that case, skip steps 1 and 2 and use 16 oz of clam juice, and 1 1/2 to 2 cups of chopped clams, saving the liquid from the cans to add to the clam juice.

Salt pork is traditional; it's like slab bacon that hasn't been smoked. You can substitute with pancetta or bacon, though bacon will give the soup a smoky flavor. If you don't use salt pork, you may need to add more salt to the soup.

The flour is a thickener. If you are cooking gluten-free or want a thinner consistency to your soup, leave it out. If you want a thicker soup, add more fat and an equal amount of flour, up to 1/4 of a cup.

Ingredients

  • About 6 pounds of quahog or cherrystone clams
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces salt pork, cubed (or chopped bacon or pancetta, cubed)
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (less or more, depending on how thick you want the soup)
  • 1 cup dry white wine, like a Sauvignon Blanc (or 2 tablespoons white or cider vinegar, or lemon juice)
  • 2 pounds potatoes (russets or Yukon gold), peeled and diced
  • 1 to 2 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning (or paprika with a dash of cayenne)
  • 1 1/2 cups corn (frozen is fine)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Method

1 Clean and prep clams: Rinse and scrub the clams to remove any dirt. Place clams in a bowl, cover with cold, well salted water and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. This will allow the clams to expel some of their grit into the water. Discard any broken clams or clams that are open and do not close when you touch them.

2 Steam the clams: Place the clams in a large pot and add about a half inch of water to the pot. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Let the clams steam until they all open up, 5 to 10 minutes. The steaming water may foam up a bit; just watch so it doesn't overflow.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the clams from the pot to a bowl. Strain the remaining clam steaming liquid through a fine mesh sieve to catch any grit, and reserve. You should have 2 to 3 cups of clam liquid.

Separate the clams from the clam shells. Discard the shells. Roughly chop the cooked clams. You should have 1 1/2 to 2 cups of chopped clams.

3 Brown the salt pork: Place the salt pork and butter or oil in the bottom of a large, thick-bottomed pot. Heat on medium and brown the salt pork. (Note that if you are using salt pork that is mostly fat, you won't need any additional fat from butter or oil, but you might want to put a little water in the pan to help render the fat from the salt pork.)

Salt pork in a pot ready to cook Salt pork cooking in a pot

4 Add onion: Add the chopped onion to the pan, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.

Salt pork and onions cooking in a pan

5 Add flour, let cook, then add wine: Sprinkle flour over the onions and stir until everything is coated with the flour. Let the flour cook for a minute or two. Slowly add the white wine to the pot, stirring after each addition.

Salt pork and onions mixed with flour to make a roux Golden roux for new england clam chowder

6 Add potatoes, clam steaming liquid, spices: Add potatoes to the pot. Add 2 to 3 cups of the strained clam steaming liquid and a cup of water. The liquid should cover the potatoes. If not, add a little more water or clam cooking liquid.

Add the bay leaf, thyme, black pepper, and Old Bay. Heat to a boil and reduce to a simmer.

Cover and cook for 10 minutes, then add the corn (if using) and cook for 5 minutes more, or until the potatoes are cooked through.

potatoes and other ingredients to make classic clam chowder Pot of New England Clam chowder after simmering

7 Heat cream: While the potatoes are cooking, heat a cup of cream in a small saucepan until steamy.

8 Add clams, stir in cream: When the potatoes are tender, add the chopped clams and turn off the heat under the soup. Slowly stir in the heated cream. Adjust seasonings. Stir in the fresh parsley.

Note that if you simmer the soup after the cream has been added, the soup may curdle. This is why we turn off the heat before adding the hot cream.

Serve with oyster crackers or rustic bread.

New England Clam Chowder with cream stirred in

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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51 Comments / Reviews

No ImageClam Chowder with Corn

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Tiffany

    Good! I really tried to stick with the recipe, had to use ham instead of bacon (sigh) but it was really good! i’m going to make it again. Thank you! :D

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Sarah

    Love clam chowder and I always add creamed corn.

  3. Steph Kindel

    Just made this with freshly dug quahogs. Used bacon and no corn (what we had in the house), but thanks for providing a good base with which to start.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  4. Alexander

    I’m from Maine. Let the ole lady try this recipe spite by ole’ fashion ways and it tasted like charcole. Either she cooked it too long or she did something ele wrong, but It was the worst ever. Simple rule from Maine. Don’t add anyhting but maybe potatoes. God I want clam chowder… Not salt pork chowder. Just never add anything but sea food too a chowder. My boss is a 40 year+ Chef and He would throw it away. The one time I regret not paying attention. Salt pork no! Milk fine. Do over do it. Half the time thats the problem. Add way too much and loose the truditional Maine flavor. I couldn’t even take 2 bites before that salty overcooked pork taste showed up. Its called clam chowder not pork chowder.

  5. Mary M

    I’ve eaten clam chowder everywhere from Canada to Texas and have loved almost every bowl. There was one in San Diego…well, never mind. One of the very few that were terrible. I grew up on Campbell’s, still love it, too. BUT – here in Dallas there is a restaurant called Yard House that makes the most delicious clam chowder I have ever encountered. Turns out their chef is from Maine! About your recipe: I’m sure it’s great, as are all your recipes, but I have to admit my stomach tightened up a bit as soon as you mentioned corn. I love good corn, but there are certain places it shouldn’t go, and this is definitely one of them! If I make this, I will not be adding corn. Everyone to his own taste!

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