The Best New England Clam Chowder Recipe
Clam Chowder Recipe Made with Bacon
I got hooked on this clam chowder recipe when Diane from Gresham and Myers brought over two big pots of it to try. We loved it; none of it went to waste.
So, when I asked the crew what they would like to have for a company luncheon this last week, this was an easy choice—especially when I suggested focaccia and peach sundaes to go with it.
The lunch was a blast. We had a ton of chowder plus chili for the gluten-free folks. Most of the crew had never tried the focaccia before and it was a perfect match for the chowder—and a good match for a tight schedule. All you do is mix it, press into a 15-inch pan, let it rise, and stick it into the oven.
This recipe makes the bacon clam chowder that Diane brought over. It calls for clams and bacon, potatoes and onions. It’s seasoned with a spice blend, Gresham and Meyers Seafood Blend. It adds tons of flavor and a touch of heat—just right for a gringo like me. If you don’t have this blend, try some thyme with a bit of marjoram. Many recipes don’t use anything but pepper. Or you can use the clam chowder recipe below or one in the free chowder e-book.
But first, let’s look at the tips and techniques from The Culinary Institute
Tips and Techniques for Making the Best Clam Chowder with Bacon | Derived from The Professional Chef/The Culinary Institute of America, 8th edition.
- Render the fat from the bacon by cooking the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan.
- Cook the vegetables in the remaining fat over gentle heat until they are tender and translucent.
- Add remaining fat. Stir the flour mixture into the fat and cook it until it is a pale yellow color. (Follow the recipe. Have the right flour to fat ratio is critical.)
- Slowly whisk in the stock or clam juice using a whisk to remove any lumps.
- Bring the soup to a simmer, stirring frequently. Simmer until the vegetables are fully tender and the soup has a good flavor.
- If the recipe calls for it, add the cream. The cream should be heated so that the soup remains hot.
- Check the quality of the finished chowder. Make sure the clams are heated through, the seasoning is desired, the consistency right, and the taste is right. The chowder should have a velvety texture and a consistency similar to heavy cream.
Diane’s Best New England Clam Chowder with Bacon Recipe
If you like chowder, you should try this recipe. It is an easy-to-make recipe for someone who is new to making chowder.
This recipe uses canned clams. You can get larger cans of clams at Sam’s Club. Because this recipe also has bacon, it calls for less clams. If you want to use fresh clams, check out the free e-book, How to Make Chowder.
This is a very meaty recipe. If you want a less meaty chowder, thin it with milk as you finish cooking it.
Diane's Best New England Clam Chowder with Bacon Recipe
- 8 ounces thick cut bacon, diced
- 24 ounces of clams, canned
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 1 ½ pounds potatoes, diced
- 2 tablespoons Gresham & Myers Seafood Rub
In a large pan, combine potatoes, clam juice, and enough water to cover potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender. Do not drain.
Cook the bacon in a frying pan over medium heat until it is crisp. Remove the bacon from pan and drain all but one tablespoon of drippings.
Add the onion and celery to the frying pan and cook until they are softened. Add the butter. When the butter is melted, stir in the flour, and cook until slightly browned.
Stir the vegetable mixture into potatoes in the clam water. Add the clams and cooked bacon and cook until thickened. When the chowder is thickened, heat the cream so that it doesn’t cool the soup and add it along with the seafood seasoning. Heat until the clams are warmed through.
Troubleshooting Your Clam Chowder
- If your chowder is too thick and pasty tasting, either you have too much thickener or the soup was cooked too long. Thin your chowder with warm milk.
- If the flavor is disappointing, there is not enough of the main ingredients or too much liquid was used.
- If the soup is bland, too much cream may have been added masking the flavor of the clams.
How to Make Gluten Free Clam Chowder
Substitute cornstarch for the flour in the recipe. Chances are, you can do a one-to-one substitution.
Another way is even simpler. Just cook it longer. The Culinary Institute recommends simmering your chowder for up to an hour. The longer you cook it, the softer the potatoes get until they break apart. As they break apart, they release potato starch into the soup thereby thickening the soup.
If you need to thin your chowder: Heat milk in the microwave or on the stovetop. Gradually pour it into the chowder while stirring until you have the desired consistency. Using warm milk instead of cold, means you don’t have to reheat the chowder before serving.
Founder of The Prepared Pantry
Dennis Weaver has burned food from Point Barrow, Alaska, to Miami, Florida. He loves to help people bake and shares his vast collection of cooking and baking knowledge on his blog as well as in his e-books and magazines. Dennis lives in Rigby, Idaho, with his wife, Merri Ann. They have five wonderful children and six beautiful granddaughters.