New England Clam Chowder

by Kelli H. on November 14, 2011

This is my favorite clam chowder ever. EVER.
 It’s no lie, I am picky when it comes to clam chowder. 

 I don’t like it too thick. In my experiences, most places make it too thick, like almost oatmeal thick. YUCK. I like oatmeal, but I don’t like my clam chowder to be oatmeal thick. I mean, chowder is still soup. This recipe is definitely soup but it’s not too thin either. Personally, if made right, I think it’s the perfect consistency for clam chowder. Isn’t that the most important aspect of clam chowder? It’s consistency?
 I’ve been making this clam chowder recipe since October 19, 2004. That’s the glorious night I found my go-to clam chowder recipe. I’ll continue making this clam chowder until I can no longer cook. That’s a long time! 

New England Clam Chowder
Adapted from Comfort Foods by Rachael Ray 
2 T butter
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 bay leaf
2 heaping tablespoons flour
1 heaping teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 cup clam juice
1 can (14 oz) chicken broth
2 cups whole milk or light cream
2 medium white-skinned potatoes, diced
1 can (10 oz) baby clams, drained
S&P
saltines
1. Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat. Add onions and bay leaf. Saute for 3-5 minutes or until onion is soft. Whisk in flour and Old Bay, cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in clam juice and broth. Cook until broth begins to thicken. Takes about 3-5 minutes. Slowly stir in milk. Add potatoes, raise heat to high, and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add clams and heat thoroughly. Season with S&P.  
Just a few notes:
1. I like to use 1 cup cream and 1 cup whole milk for this recipe – I think it thickens up perfectly this way. 
2. I used yellow-skinned potatoes this time and it worked marvelous! Don’t fret if you don’t have white.
3. You need to chop your potatoes the same size! Consistency really matters in this recipe. Also, take note that it says diced. Diced means small, people! If you don’t, you’ll be waiting around for an eternity for them to cook all the way through.
4. I forgot to buy the clam juice — what the?! I just drained the juice that the baby clams came in which gave me almost a cup and it still came out excellent.
Do you prefer oyster crackers or saltines?
Obviously we prefer saltines, baby!

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers November 14, 2011 at 5:00 pm

I bet it’s good. Ms. Ray ought to know a thing or two about New England cooking!

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David November 14, 2011 at 5:29 pm

This was seriously the best Clam Chowder I’ve ever had. Hands down, the best. It was a great cold weather dinner, perfect for a Saturday night with my 2 favorites! πŸ™‚

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Kristine @ Running on Hungry November 14, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Oh YUM I am making this this week! I looove me some clam chowdah! (I think it’s my Boston roots!)

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Errign November 14, 2011 at 10:53 pm

I don’t like either cracker in soup, but it general I prefer oyster crackers – I snack on them at work all day πŸ™‚

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Shellie November 15, 2011 at 4:01 am

This sounds really good…I am going to try it on the very next cold night we have.

I don’t care for crackers…i am all about this soup in a sourdough bread bowl…mmmmmm good!

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Made in Sonoma November 15, 2011 at 4:25 am

@Shellie
I like to dip the saltines in the soup. I don’t actually like putting the crackers in it though and letting them get soggy.

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Lindsay @ Pinch of Yum November 16, 2011 at 3:43 am

Oyster crackers! It just seems like it should be oyster crackers if it’s clam chowder, ya know? πŸ™‚

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Estela @ Weekly Bite November 16, 2011 at 4:45 am

I adore clam chowder! It’s my favorite soup. I can’t believe I haven’t made it yet. Can’t wait to try this recipe πŸ™‚

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Emma December 2, 2011 at 5:27 am

Hey Kelli, I made this tonight for dinner. As soon as I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it because I LOVE clam chowder. The consistency really is perfect, I totally see what you mean. Thanks for posting this recipe! so good!

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Made in Sonoma December 2, 2011 at 2:36 pm

@Emma
I’m so glad you’re cooking the recipes I post! Glad you liked it. πŸ™‚

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mom December 12, 2011 at 2:49 am

This is fantastic clam chowder! The flavor is really good. I am glad I did half cream and half milk like you said. I will make this again before the end of winter. I think I’ll try adding garlic and celery next time not that it really needs it but just for a variation.

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Anonymous February 16, 2012 at 11:31 pm

Chowder’s not soup… chowdah is chowdah! πŸ™‚ No, seriously, I grew up in coastal Maine, and I have to say that I agree with you completely about thick chowder. Everybody raves about the chowder at a few different restaurants around here, while I think it is quite disgusting and glue-like. When people want oatmeal chowder, I immediately think they don’t know what they’re doing. I like mine to be more like an opaque soup than glue. I also have to say that I prefer the chowder to include whole clams, or only coarsely chopped clams. Minced clams which are barely recognizable as clams are a no-no. Obviously if you live in New England, you should also use fresh clams, not canned. (I also prefer larger chunks of potatoes, I must say.) The best chowder seems to be at “low-brow” shacks in non-tourist areas of Maine and Massachusetts.

I think the Old Bay seasoning makes your recipe a bit inauthentic – my old time recipe in an old “Cooking Downeast” cookbook includes no spices other than salt and pepper – the salt, pepper, diced onions, and butter do the trick in merely enhancing the fresh clam flavor. Nevertheless, this still looks like a very tasty and easy-to-make chowder. (I do love Old Bay… it’s just not usually in a clam chowder recipe… doesn’t mean it won’t be delicious!)

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Made in Sonoma February 17, 2012 at 4:48 pm

It sounds like you’re quite the clam chowder connoisseur. I’m glad we can both agree on the consistency issue.

I really like the use of Old Bay seasoning in this recipe, and if that makes the recipe inauthentic, that’s okay with me.

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