Creamy Boston Clam Chowder is loaded with tender potatoes and clams, and topped with crispy bacon. It is a comforting bowl of soup for any time of year!
About This Soup
Boston clam chowder and New England clam chowder are one and the same. Chowder with a creamy base, potatoes, and plenty of clams and seasonings. There is also Manhattan Clam Chowder, which has a red tomato-based broth. But when I am looking for a bowl of comforting soup, creamy wins me over!
Clam chowder has deep roots in American history. The Boston version has been served at Ye Olde Union Oyster House, American's longest continuously operating restaurant, since 1826. You can read more about the history of this tasty soup in this post detailing our Massachusetts state dinner.
Step by Step instructions
Step One: Cook Bacon
- Bacon serves two purposes in our clam chowder recipe. Crispy bacon crumbs are a delicious topping to the soup, providing both texture and a salty flavor. We also cook the vegetables in the bacon drippings, which adds a wonderful layer of flavor to the chowder.
- Chop the raw bacon into bite-sized pieces, then cook over medium heat unti crispy.
- Remove with a slotted spoon or strainer, and set aside on a paper towel-lined plate.
Step Two: Chop and Saute Vegetables
- Chop up about a cup of celery and onions. Then go ahead and cut up your potatoes while you have your cutting board and knife close by. The potatoes will be cooked a little later, but you can go ahead and get them ready.
- Add a little butter to the saucepan, then the celery and onion, as well as some garlic, and cook until they are soft.
Step Three: Boil Potatoes and Herbs
- Now we are ready for those potatoes They go into the stock pan with a bottle of clam juice, chicken broth, and the seasonings.
- Simmer on the stove until the potatoes are soft. Just stick a knife into one of the potatoes. If it goes in easily then you are ready to move on to the next step. But if it meets resistance, continue cooking.
Step Four: Add Flour and Half and Half
- Listen to me here, this is important! If you add flour directly to the pan you will end up with lumps, and nobody wants a lumpy soup! So we are going to make a slurry, which means we stir the flour with some of the half and half. Whisk it until it is nice and smooth, THEN add it to the soup! This will keep your soup nice and creamy, just as it should be.
- Boil until the soup has thickened. Don't forget to find the bay leaf and remove it! Otherwise, someone will find a surprise in their bowl. When I was a kid, my parents would say that the person who got the bay leaf was extra lucky. But I recommend you go ahead and remove the leaf before serving.
Step Five: Stir in Clams and Serve
- Once the soup thickens, add in the clams and the rest of the half and half, and cook until it is heated through.
- Serve it up, add your favorite toppings (don't forget that crispy bacon), and enjoy!
What to Serve with Clam Chowder
You can serve clam chowder as the soup course for a meal, or as the main dish itself. Many say that in order to be a true Boston Clam Chowder it has to be served with oyster crackers. It is also delicious with these complementary foods:
If you are serving wine, full-bodied white wine like a California Chardonnay pairs well.
Tips and FAQs
This recipe makes a pretty thick clam chowder. However, if you find your chowder is too thin for your preference, it is an easy remedy! Just remove about ¼ cup of the soup liquid and place in a small bowl. Add a tablespoon or two of flour to the liquid and stir until fully combined. Simmer for a few minutes to allow the flour to thicken the soup.
For a thinner soup, it is even easier! Just add some additional chicken broth or cream, and stir until it is your desired consistency.
Your chowder should be refrigerated within 2 hours of making. This will keep the seafood and the dairy from spoiling. Store in an airtight container and it will keep for 3-4 days.
Clam chowder is best eaten right away. Freshly made chowder has tender clams and they can get rubbery when reheated. If you are okay with this texture change then reheating is fine.
Simply heat on the stove over medium heat, stirring frequently. Do not let the soup come to a full boil. Just cook until it is heated through.
Clam chowder can be frozen for up to 6 months. Freezing the chowder can result in the soup turning grainy once it is reheated. To minimize this, stir the soup frequently and do not let it boil.
Related Recipes and Links
Check out these other Massachusetts recipes!
If you like this recipe, please share it with your friends! And once you taste it, let me know your thoughts by providing a review.
Boston Clam Chowder
- 6 slices bacon
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 celery ribs about 1 cup chopped
- 1 medium onion about 1 cup chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2-3 medium white potatoes 2 cups cubed
- 1 bottle clam juice
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups half and half, divided
- 2 cans 6.5 oz each, diced clams
- chives, to serve
- oyster crackers, to serve
- Dice bacon and cook in a Dutch oven or large stockpot over medium heat. Stir occasionally and cook until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Add butter to the bacon drippings.
- Chop celery ribs, onion, and potatoes. Set the potatoes aside. Mince garlic.Add the chopped celery and onion to the butter and bacon drippings. Saute over medium heat until the onions are soft, 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional minute.
- Add the potatoes, clam juice, chicken broth, bay leaf, thyme, and black pepper to the stockpot. Turn heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat to low and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are soft.
- In a small bowl, combine flour and 1 cup of half and half and mix until smooth. Gradually pour the flour mixture into the soup. Turn heat up to medium and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir for 1-2 minutes, until the soup has thickened. Discard bay leaf.
- Add the remaining half and half and the clams. Cook until heated through. Do not boil.
- Taste and add additional salt and pepper, if desired. If you want a thinner soup, add additional chicken broth or cream.
- Serve into individual bowls, top with bacon crumbles and chives, and serve with oyster crackers.