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Love clam chowder and I always add creamed corn.
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.
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.
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!
I like to thicken it with a light white sauce — for my usual-size batch, two tablespoonsful of butter or other oils, heated long enough to evaporate any water, then an equal amount of flour stirred in and cooked until it barely begins to brown, then milk/cream plus other (clam-juice) liquids added, and cooked for a few minutes to overcome any raw-flour taste. (Actually, I’m too much of a Depression Era child to buy cream for any cooking, but I find that whole-milk works quite well, and my cardiologist doesn’t object if I don’t do it too often.)
And yes, if it comes out a bit thin for my taste, instant mashed potato flakes work fine. (Note that, even though I’ve spent most of my life on the West Coast, I don’t think clam chowder should b thick enough to eat with a fork.)
Great recipe. Usually when I cook up a creamy soup or stew, I add cream after I have served up the soup in a bowl. Even though, cream, not milk. does well even if the soup or chowder boils, I found adding cream to the bowl makes it even better. And, if someone does not like the cream, they can leave it out or add a few spoonfuls of stewed tomatoes, Rotel, or chopped tomatoes in juice or V8. Everyone’s taste is different, so offering options is important to me.
I like making a roux and let mine cook 3 minutes to rid the raw flour taste.
Thanks for the recipe. : )
I’m long overdue in giving you a compliment. When I want to make something, I look at other recipe sites, but then I come back to yours and always end up making your version. Always the best. Many thanks for this great chowder recipe which will be our Christmas Eve dinner!
Thank you Susanne, Merry Christmas!
I agree! I always come back to Simply Recipes! We are the same age but I think you are my grandmother when it comes to recipes.
Meanwhile, I totally botched this recipe with substitutions. Used flash frozen clams (seemed fancier than canned but way easier than steamed fresh). The broth was perfect beforehand but the frozen clams released tons of flavor. And liquid. Took an extra cup of cream and cornstarch slurry and extra lemon, but every one loved the final product!!
N.B. Just follow the recipe!!
Made this tonight… OMG, it is super good. Yes, I improvised a bit, but the base of this chowder recipe is extremely good and you can easily incorporate your own techniques and flavors into this recipe and make it your own. I did!
Just made this and it taste great… Will have for my lunch tomorrow. Sadly, I forgot the oyster crackers, I’ ll have to make do with the saltines!!! YUMMY!!!
I would like to make this but don’t understand how adding a half inch of water during steaming allows you to end up with 1 to 2 cups of clam liquid….
The clams have liquid inside of them which they release when they open up while they cook.
Two years ago I had clam chowder tasted in a restaurant while I am on vacation in Wyoming. Since then I loved it and I was searching for recipes. So I found your recipe.I have made this recipe for the 4th time today. It’s absolutely great! Thank you for that.
I have tried (and loved) many of the recipes on this web-site, but this is my first time commenting. I have to tell you that I LOVED this. So comforting- I ate 2 bowls! I did the version using potato flakes instead of flour and used low sodium chicken stock instead of water. Oh- and 2 bay leaves instead of 1. Served with crackers (for my husband) and sweet potato rolls for my daughter and I. yummmmm
This is a great recipe…just the right thickness for me personally. Let me go out on a limb and share that I’ve made clam chow-dah and used whole clams from a can before and it was still great. Just sayin! Most of you/us do not have access to fresh clams so it is a substitute worth trying if necessary. One of the best chowders I ever tasted was on the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard.
I give this one 5 stars! Not too thick, not too thin, and just enough cream to make it luscious without being too heavy, it was delicious! Didn’t have any white wine and it was Sunday so I added the 2T of cider vinegar even though I was nervous about it tasting off but it rounded out the flavors nicely. The corn was a nice addition too! The only thing I added was a little hot sauce at the end for a subtle kick.
I was trying to replay to the first post looking for a non-dairy chowdah……but I had trouble posting my comment. I see that you took care of it with a reference to RI chowder. I love the New England Chowdah…..but also 2 versions of RI chowder. One is made with clam broth, salt pork onion and potato and chopped clams (I use canned)….and seasoned with garden herbs such as thyme, tarragon etc. It is delicious.
The second starts the same but I smoosh up a can of whole tomatoes with my fingers and add the tomato and the juice(not puree) to the broth and add chopped up portuguese chorico (the hard sausage…not the soft mexican chorico) with the clams….to the chowder. Both have lots of black pepper also. In RI they are often served with RI version of clam cakes which are really a clam fritter, not a pan fried clam cake. They are so popular that for awhile even McDonald’s added clam cakes to some of their RI menu.
Very glad to see you are using the broth from steaming to add clam flavor. My family has always done the same thing. If I have more broth than I need I will often even simmer it to reduce and concentrate the flavors but allows the consistency to remain where I want it to be.
My family always makes quahog chowder, so instead of the smaller clams you use a few large quahogs and chop them up. Lots of flavor and less shucking!
Hi Melanie, question for you with the quahog chowder. Do you steam the quahogs first? and then chop? Or do you shuck the quahogs raw, and grind or chop? I’ve been told both ways.
I have made chowders, oyster stew, bisques, and other dairy-based soups very successfully with soymilk. Use the regular kind, not Lite or flavored versions. I also find that the dairy case soymilks have a more delicate flavor than the ones in aseptic packs on the shelves. Be very careful to gently heat the soymilk and not boil it, since boiling can lead to separation and a pronounced bean-y flavor.
I love this recipe! I too grew up in Massachusetts. My dad, the son of Portuguese immigrants, insisted on tomato based chow-dah. I remember my delight at a Yankee friend’s house to encounter cream based ambrosia. This one is even more flavorful, and not pasty like we find here out west. Thanks for my new favorite chowder.
Thank you so much for the link to the New England Chowder Compendium. This is a real treasure! There are many historical recipes and modern interpretations of chowder. It even has a link to the chowder chapter in Moby Dick.
Tsk tsk tsk. This is a very busy recipe and not at all real clam chowder! I am from Massachusetts and grew up on Cape Cod and New England clam chowder. Authentic clam chowder is all about the thin broth and the clams! New Englanders are looking for just three things-clams, thin broth with a little creaminess, and some diced potato heartiness.
For the past 25+ years out here in CA I’ve seen 99% clam STEW, as this recipe is, too. All of these ingredients produces glop that completely masks and overpowers the clam and fish flavor. Real clam chowder is not about standing your spoon up in it with 25 ingredients in it, as I have mostly encountered out here. There is no flour in authentic clam chowder, no corn (that’s for Crab Chowders), no bay leaf, no wine, no butter in the prep, no Old Bay Seasoning. If you want to know what real clam chowder is sautee up some salt pork or bacon, dice a few potatoes and some onions up and when the pork is rendered, add them to that. After a few minutes, add 3 or 4 cups of fish or clam broth. When the potatoes are softened add the clams and some, SOME, milk or cream, just to give a little creaminess. Fresh clams in the shell are not traditional. Use any chopped and cooked clam meat. Do not boil. Season with some salt and pepper, and serve with a little pat of butter on top and of course, oyster crackers–And NO BREAD BOWLS. If you like this recipe and thickness, then call it stew, and I am happy for you…..But real Clam Chowder is thin and simple!
For the record Gary, this recipe is not a glop. There’s just a little flour for a little thickening. I too do not like the clam chowders that are so thick you can stand a spoon in it. Those recipes usually take a half a cup of flour, not a tablespoon. If you are really interested in “authentic” New England clam chowder, I urge you to look at the recipes from the 1700s and 1800s that are linked to from the Chowder Compendium I mention in the headnotes and in the links beneath the recipe. You’ll see much more variety than you would expect.
Gary, dude, mellow out. We’re just sharing here. If you have a different way of doing things, we’re happy to hear about it, but don’t shout down other people. Elise has a pretty solid track record with her site and I place a great deal of trust in what she recommends.
Have a nice day.
I realize this post is old. But –
If you look through the Chowder Compendium, with the link Elise provided at the top of the article, you can see that the Chowder recipes dating back as far as the 1700s and 1800s actually do include flour and even wine in numerous recipe iterations.
As she stated earlier, there is no one right and perfect way to make it. Your personal way is the right way for you, personally. As a Mainer, I know how opinionated folks are about their New England Clam Chowder. Just make it the way you want it and accept that other folks will do the same. No one is out to cook any gloppy wallpaper paste of a chowder here.
Thank you Elise for providing the link to the Chowder Compendium link – so awesome! I had no idea it even existed.
Marie the Mainer
As a native New Englander and Cape Cod resident I would like to say that I agree with Gary Z’s recipe. Clam Chowder should be simple and the flavor of the clams should be foremost. I can’t imagine going to all that work to shell clams unless you dug them yourself. Any good seafood market should offer chopped clams for chowder. While there is no law that says you can’t add corn to clam chowder, it certainly isn’t traditional. Corn chowder is often served here as an alternative to clam chowder. Lunch counters (remember them) used to offer corn chowder on Wednesdays and clam chowder on Fridays. My pet peeve; calling chowder “chowda” or lobster “lobsta” is really just mimicking our accents. People with Boston accents tend to drop the ending r off many words. I just came across this post looking for a clam chowder recipe. I might try it both ways, but definitely without the corn. Thank you.