New England Clam Chowder

"Adopted! This is Jasper White's recipe. Considered by many to be the definitive version. From the book "50 chowders". This recipe can be made very quickly with bottled clam juice and canned clams if desired - it turns out just fine. Clams/Broth: Makes about 1 quart broth and 2 cups clam meat"
photo by a user photo by a user
Ready In:
1hr 45mins
10 cups




  • Scrub the clams, and rinse clean.
  • Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in an 8-quart stockpot over high heat.
  • Add the clams, and cover tightly.
  • After 5 minutes, uncover, and stir the clams with a wooden spoon.
  • Quickly cover the pot again, and let steam for 5 minutes more, or until most of the clams have opened.
  • Don‘t wait for them all to open, or they will be overcooked.
  • It should only take a little tug or prying to open the stragglers once they are all removed from the heat.
  • The total cooking time for large cherrystones will be about 10 minutes; quahogs will need as much as 5 more minutes.
  • While the clams are steaming, the broth should become foamy and light.
  • It usually spills over a bit just as the clams are cooked and ready.
  • As soon as you remove the clams from the stove, carefully pour as much of the broth as you can into a tall, narrow container.
  • Let the broth sit for 10 minutes, then carefully pour through a fine-mesh strainer.
  • After sitting, 99 percent of the grit will have collected at the bottom of the container.
  • If you are not using the broth within the hour, chill it as quickly as possible, and cover it after it has completely cooled.
  • Keep refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.
  • Remove the clams from their shells, cover, and refrigerate.
  • After they have cooled a bit, dice them into 1/2-inch pieces.
  • Cover again, and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
  • Heat a 4- to 6-quart heavy-bottomed pot over low heat and add the salt pork.
  • Once it has rendered a few tablespoons of fat, increase the heat to medium and cook until the salt pork is a crisp golden brown.
  • Remove from pot; set aside.
  • Add the butter, onions, garlic, celery, thyme, and bay leaves.
  • Sauté, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the onions are softened but not browned, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the potatoes and the strained clam broth.
  • The broth should just barely cover the potatoes; if it doesn’t, add enough water to cover them.
  • Increase the heat, and bring to a boil.
  • Cover, and cook the potatoes vigorously until they are soft on the outside but still firm in the center, about 10 minutes.
  • If the broth hasn’t thickened lightly, smash a few potatoes against the side of the pot, and cook 1 to 2 minutes more to release the starch.
  • Remove pot from the heat, and stir in the diced clams and the cream.
  • Season to taste.
  • If you are not serving the chowder within the hour, let it cool a bit, then refrigerate; cover the chowder after it has completely chilled.
  • Otherwise, let it sit at room temperature for up to 1 hour, allowing the flavors to meld.
  • When ready to serve, reheat the chowder over low heat; don’t let it boil.
  • Ladle into cups or bowls, making sure that the clams, potatoes, and onions are evenly divided.
  • Sprinkle with parsley, chives, and reserved salt-pork cracklings.

Questions & Replies

Got a question? Share it with the community!


  1. When my DH was in the Navy stationed in The Boston area we ate Clam "chowda" every Friday and I was taught by the chef who made great chowder just like this recipe. No flour is used to make chowder thick just potatoes and cream and this is it. Yum!! I am so happy to find this recipe. Thanks for posting Queen Dragon Mom.
  2. This is pretty darn close to the recipe I picked up from a seafood restaurant I used to work for outside Boston--I made the "chowda" once a week there for almost a year. The big omission is the addition of the flour between steps 23 and 24. I add flour to make a tight roux before adding the clam juice (and thyme and bay leaves). When I make it at home now I cheat and get the big cans of chopped clams from Costco. Purists will also use fish stock made from cod and/or flounder in addition to the clam juice (broth). That's hard to come by in Northern VA where I live now so I just use fish stock from the grocery store. Two other differences between this recipe and mine is I don't use garlic but I do add a smidgeon of fresh dill (added along with the thyme) and carrots diced ultra fine (added with the onions and celery). This recipe is super labor intensive compared to other chowders--but I would do it any other way.
  3. This was great! Not overly time consuming and tasty. I used light cream instead of heavy and it still tastes great.


<p>Mother of 4, grandmother of 3.... <br /> <br />One of my favorite authors is Kipling, he had a way with words... <br />...when the moon gets up and night comes, he is the Cat that walks by himself, and all places are alike to him.... <br />Rudyard Kipling</p>
View Full Profile

Find More Recipes