New England clam chowder is a classic creamy soup made with clams, bacon, potatoes, leeks, shallot, white wine, and cream base that’s luxuriously creamy. This recipe adds poblano peppers for a little kick. Cold weather comfort food at its finest.
This New England clam chowder recipe, put simply, is a classic. No other way to say it, no other way to make it. Rich, luxuriously creamy, and exactly the right proportion of clams to everything else. We know several folks who are calling it quits in their search for the best clam chowder recipe after trying this one. Originally published September 29, 2014.–Renee Schettler Rossi
*How To Buy Clams For Making New England Clam Chowder
Typically, quahog clams or cherrystone clams are the best for clam chowder since they’re larger and yield more meat for the buck. If you buy the clams whole from the seafood counter, chop the meat roughly before using. Buying freshly chopped clams can save you some time and energy. Though fresh clams are usually pretty easy to find at most fishmongers, canned clams are a decent substitute and will save some money.
New England Clam Chowder
- Quick Glance
- 25 M
- 1 H
- Serves 10 to 12
- 6 ounces bacon, diced
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 oz)
- 4 shallots, diced fairly finely (about 2/3 cup)
- 1 poblano pepper, diced (about 1/2 cup; optional)
- 2 leeks, white parts only, cleaned well and chopped (about 3 cups)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
- 1 quart (4 cups) clam juice
- 1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream
- 1 cup milk, preferably whole
- 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 to 3 dashes store-bought or homemade hot sauce, plus more for serving (optional)
- 2 to 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce (optional)
- 2 pounds fresh quahog or cherrystone clams*, chopped, or eight 6 1/2-ounce cans clams with liquid reserved, chopped (if using canned, drain the juice from the clams and reserve it for use in place of some of the clam juice called for above)
- 1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- Saltine or oyster crackers, for serving
- 1. Heat the bacon in a large pot over medium heat until it renders its fat and browns a little. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the pot just before it gets crisp.
- 2. To the same pot, still over medium heat, add the butter, shallots, poblano pepper if using, leeks, and garlic until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
- 3. Sprinkle the flour over the ingredients in the pot and quickly stir to incorporate the flour into the butter. Cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, without letting the flour brown.
- 4. Add the white wine to the pot, scraping the bottom of the pot to deglaze it, and cook until the wine reduces slightly. Add the clam juice (if using canned clams, use the liquid as part of the total amount of clam juice), cream, milk, and potatoes and bring to a gentle simmer. Season with a few heavy shakes hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce, if using, and gently simmer—do not let it boil!—until the potatoes are tender, roughly 15 to 20 minutes. Add the bacon and the clams to the pot and simmer an additional 8 to 10 minutes. Add salt to taste and serve with more hot sauce and the crackers, if desired.