New England Clam Chowder

Makes 8 to 10 bowls

There are many different regional recipes for clam chowder. This is New England clam chowder, which is my favourite.

This recipe is based on chef Jean-Pierre's clam chowder recipe (here and here), after having removed the ingredients which do not belong in a proper New England Clam Chowder.

Clam Chowder And Bread Rolls


For the clams -
For the Bechamel sauce -
For the chowder -


Steam the Clams -
  1. In a Dutch oven or large pan with a tight-fitting lid, add Olive Oil, when hot add the Shallots and cook for a couple minutes,
  2. Add the Garlic, Thyme and Wine,
  3. When hot add the Clams, cover and cook COVERED until they all open,
  4. Strain through a fine sieve at least twice, and SAVE THE JUICE (the juice is the most important ingredient of the whole chowder!),
  5. Remove the cooked clam flesh from the shells (a teaspoon is good for this), making sure to add any clam juice caught in the shells to the reserved clam juice, and set the clam flesh aside. Discard the shells.

Important Note: if using frozen clams DO NOT DEFROST them before cooking; once they defrost, the shells will open and the clam juice will escape.

Make the Bechamel Sauce -
  1. In a small saucepan, melt the Butter then add the Flour, stir well and cook for about 3 minutes,
  2. Add the Milk and use a whisk to mix vigorously to avoid lumps until the sauce starts to thicken, then take it off the heat (don't cook the sauce until it is fully thickened),
  3. Add Salt and Pepper to taste.
Make the Chowder -
  1. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the Olive Oil,
  2. When hot add the Bacon and cook for a couple minutes until golden brown,
  3. Remove the Bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside,
  4. Add the Onion and cook until translucent,
  5. Add the Celery and Carrots (and mushrooms, if you decide to use them) and let them cook slowly for 5 - 10 minutes,
  6. Add the Garlic and cook until fragrant,
  7. Add the Potatoes and the Clam Juice,
  8. Add the Stock and Cream and mix well,
  9. Add the cooked Bacon and the Bechamel Sauce, then reduce the heat to low a simmer and cook covered for about 45 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the chowder sticking to the pan,
  10. 5 minutes before serving, add the clam flesh, and stir in,
  11. Add the Dill, stir in and serve.

New England Clam Chowder is supposed to be fairly thick, but tastes vary. If you feel the chowder is too thick, add more Stock, Milk or Cream, and cook until it starts to bubble again; if the chowder is too runny, add a little Corn Starch (Corn Flour) whisked into in a little Water or Milk and cook until the chowder thickens.

You may want to taste the chowder before serving, and add more Salt and/or Pepper if needed.

You can, of course add additional ingredients, or leave out things you don't have or don't like (I leave out the celery because I can't stand it). Soups and chowders are flexible in that respect.