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New England Clam Chowder

Posted by Denise on March 8, 2011

new england clam chowder

This clam chowder is nicely warming on cool days.


Since we were raised in the Midwest, a totally land-locked area of the United States, I always viewed anything with saltwater shellfish as exotic and a little scary to cook with since it tends to be expensive and I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I was intrigued with the idea of being able to make a really good clam chowder. I discovered that I preferred the creamy New England clam chowder over the tomato-based Manhattan clam chowder. My husband, Glenn, likes either kind.

We ordered New England clam chowder at quite a few restaurants over the years and found that sometimes we liked it and sometimes it wasn’t very good. We liked the New England clam chowder at Red Lobster, the seafood restaurant chain, so I set out to try to duplicate it so we could have it at home for a fraction of the price of purchasing it from the restaurant. After many attempts where we tweaked it a little each time, we have arrived at a recipe that we think tastes very close to Red Lobster’s, but better yet, is one that we really love.

We discovered that if we purchase the cans of chopped clams instead of using fresh clams, most of the work is already done and it is really affordable! Not only that, but one of the nice things about this chowder is that if you have guests pop in right before dinner, you can add a little more cream or milk to it, adjust the spicing, and everyone eats! Make it an hour before you plan to eat or make it the day before and heat it when you are ready. It’s great either way.

Do not let it boil or the dairy products may separate. 



New England Clam Chowder

4 servings




new england clam chowder ingredients 

Oops! I forgot to include the bacon and cans of clams. Please pretend they are in the photo.





2      15 oz. cans of chopped clams

2       strips of bacon

1/2    medium onion, finely chopped

2       medium potatoes, diced

2       cups half and half cream

3       cups milk, whole or 1% if desired

2       Tablespoons butter or margarine

2       Tablespoons all-purpose flour

2       bay leaves

         Salt and pepper to taste




1.    Cook the bacon over medium heat in a pan large enough to accommodate all of the rest of the chowder ingredients. When slightly crispy, remove the bacon from the pan and set on paper towels to absorb some of the oil. When cooled, crumble or chop into fine pieces.

cooking bacon for clam chowder


2.    In the same pan, drain off bacon grease, but leave the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Add butter and onion to the pan and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add flour to the onions and, stirring constantly, cook for 2 or 3 minutes.

cutting onions for new england clam chowder


3.   Add the potatoes and juice from the cans of clams. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add clams and simmer until the potatoes are tender, approximately 10 more minutes.

cutting potatoes for new england clam chowder


4.      Add milk, half and half, and bay leaves. Salt and pepper to taste. Let chowder simmer on low heat for at least a half hour or several hours, until everyone is ready to eat. Do not allow the chowder to boil.

new england clam chowder in pan



new england clam chowder in brown bowl


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