Delicious, homemade version of your favorite New England Clam Chowder! It’s so creamy, flavorful and full of clams, bacon and potatoes. It’s easier to make than you think and the ultimate bowl of comfort food.
If you’re craving a cozy soup, you can’t go wrong with a bowl of homemade clam chowder! It’s a combination of clams, tender potatoes, and bacon with a creamy, thick broth to pull them all together.
This is a New England clam chowder recipe that’s easy to make from scratch and perfect for a cold day! I love to serve it with some crusty bread on the side to soak up all the delicious creamy broth.
Why This Recipe Works
The base of the soup is made with a roux, which is a combination of flour and butter that thickens the soup. Add some milk and you get a delicious soup with the best creamy texture.
Traditional clam chowder recipes use salt pork, which is a cut of pork that looks like bacon but is saltier and fattier. It’s not something I usually have on hand, so I use bacon instead. The flavors are similar, but bacon adds a little smoky touch. It gives the soup a great flavor!
Instead of cooking the potatoes in plain water, I season the water with bullion cubes. It makes it like a light chicken broth – the potatoes absorb all of that flavor making the soup even better.
It might look like this soup takes forever to make, but it doesn’t. The total time is about 45 minutes!
- Chicken bouillon cubes – these are used to boil the potatoes giving them the best flavor! If you don’t have the cubes, you can substitute four cups of chicken stock.
- Diced Yukon gold potatoes – you don’t need to peel them because the skin is thin. You can also use red potatoes for this recipe.
- Chopped canned clams – don’t toss the juices. Add the juice to the soup for even more flavor.
- Chopped bacon – you can also use the same amount of pork salt. I’ve seen it made with pancetta, too.
- Chopped yellow onion
- Unsalted butter
- All-purpose flour
- Whole milk – I don’t recommend using 2% milk for this recipe. Whole milk is richer and makes the best creamy soup.
- Salt and black pepper
How to Make It
Add water and bouillon cubes to a large pot and bring the water to a boil. Add the diced potatoes cook them for ten minutes or until they are tender. Drain and set the potatoes aside.
Rinse the pot out, dry it, and then place back over medium to medium-high heat. Add the bacon and onions and saute them for eight minutes or until the bacon is crispy and the onions are softened and translucent. Don’t drain off the bacon fat – the drippings make the soup so delicious!
Add the butter to the cooked bacon and onions. Once it’s melted, add the flour to the pot and stir until it forms a paste with the butter. Cook it, stirring constantly, for about two to three minutes. This will cook off the raw flour taste before you add the liquids.
Slowly add the milk, one cup at a time, while stirring. Stir out any lumps before adding each cup of milk. Once all of the milk is added, bring the soup to a boil. As it starts to thicken, lower the heat to maintain a simmer.
Add the cooked potatoes and chopped clams along with the clam juice and stir to combine. Taste the soup and add more salt, if needed, before serving it.
Ingredient Tip: For a twist on this soup, try adding smoked salmon instead of bacon. It’s so good! If you try it, wait to add the chopped smoked salmon until the end – it’s already cooked, so it just needs to warm up before serving the soup.
Cooking Tip: To save on dishes, I like to use one pot but it does take a little longer to make the soup this way. To speed things up, boil the potatoes in one pot and, while they’re cooking, cook the bacon and onions in a separate pot – it will save about ten minutes.
Make-Ahead Tip: If you want to split up the work, boil the potatoes in advance and then keep them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make the soup.
Garnish Tip: Chopped fresh parsley or sliced chives add a pop of color and fresh flavor. For some crunch, top your yummy clam chowder with some oyster crackers.
Side Dish Ideas
I love it with slices of crust bread, but you could also serve it with some garlic bread. Or, serve it in bread bowls for a fun twist!
Sometimes I pair a bowl of this soup with a salad for a delicious lunch.
The New England version, like I’m sharing today, is a creamy white soup. The Manhattan version is made with a tomato-based broth that isn’t creamy.
You will want to use waxier potatoes that will hold their shape once they are boiled. Yukon gold or red potatoes are great. You can use russet potatoes, but I recommend peeling them first and be careful to not overcook them because they can get mushy.
If you want a richer soup, you can use half and half instead of whole milk. As far as heavy cream, I would use milk to make the soup and then add a few splashes of heavy cream at the end just to add a little more creaminess.
I haven’t made it with fresh clams because canned clams are so much easier. Without testing it first, I can’t say how you will need to prep and cook fresh clams for this recipe.
The leftovers will keep well in the refrigerator for up to four days.
Are you ready to give this recipe a try? It’s the best clam chowder! It will warm your whole family up when it’s cold outside. I know you will love it!
More Soup Recipes
- Turkey Corn Chowder is the best way to use up leftover turkey from the holidays!
- Slow Cooker Zuppa Toscana is a copycat recipe that’s even better than the original!
- For my King Ranch Chicken Soup, I took a classic casserole and turned it into a comforting soup recipe.
- There’s nothing better than a bowl of Classic Chicken Noodle Soup when you need a little comfort.
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- 4 cups water
- 2 chicken bouillon cubes
- 5 medium Yukon gold potatoes unpeeled, diced (about 1 ½ pounds)
- 2 cans chopped clams with their juice 6.5 oz each
- 4 slices bacon chopped
- ¾ cup chopped yellow onion
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups whole milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley for garnish optional
- Crusty bread for serving
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, bring water and bouillon cubes to a boil. Add diced potatoes and cook for about 10 minutes until fork tender. Drain and set potatoes aside. Rinse and dry the pot for the next step.
- Over medium heat, add bacon and onions to the pot, cook until bacon is crispy, and onions are translucent, about 8 minutes.
- Add the butter to the pot. Once it is melted add the flour, stirring constantly, until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Add the milk one cup at a time, thoroughly stirring until incorporated. Allow liquid to come to a boil until thick and bubbly, and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Add potatoes and clams with their liquid to the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy!