A classic New England clam chowder – Fresh clams, potatoes and bacon come together for a creamy flavorful chowder, perfect to serve with crusty bread.

New England clam chowder is a milk/cream-based chowder, and it’s an American traditional recipe, occasionally referred to as Boston chowder.

“A New England clam chowder, made as it should be, is a dish to preach about, to chant praises and sing hymns and burn incense before. To fight for. The Battle of Bunker Hill was fought for–or on–clam chowder; part of it at least, I am sure it was. It is as American as the Stars and Stripes, as patriotic as the national Anthem. It is ‘Yankee Doodle in a kettle.'”
Joseph C. Lincoln (1870-1944)

Fresh clams, basic vegetables like potato, carrot and potatoes, and some extra simple ingredients come altogether into a silky heart-warming soup.

Make sure you don’t add tomatoes: in 1939 the Maine legislature declared illegal to add them to the clam chowder. But you fancy adding tomatoes in place of cream (making it “Manhattan-style”) is totally ok.

I loved every single scoop of this delicious chowder. It has quickly become a regular hit at the dinner table. It’s just the comforting meal you need on a chilled fall evening.

It took me days to develop just the perfect recipe, but now I’m super proud to share this with you all.

Classic New England clam chowder - Fresh clams, potatoes and bacon make this soup impossible to resist. Recipe by thepetitecook.com

What about you, have you ever tried a traditional New England clam chowder?

Write a comment below and let me know how you liked it. Or even better, take a picture and tag it #thepetitecook on Instagram! I can’t wait to see your pictures!

Print Recipe
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Original New England Clam Chowder

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chowder, clam, mushroom soup
Servings: 4


  • 3 kg fresh clams 3kg
  • 450 g potatoes peeled and finely cubed
  • 1 carrot finely diced
  • 1 stalk celery finely diced
  • 1 golden onion finely diced
  • 100 gr Bacon or Speck finely cubed
  • 250 ml fresh double cream
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves lightly crushed
  • Extravirgin olive oil as needed
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli finely sliced (optional)
  • kosher salt & freshly cracked black pepper to taste


  • Soak the clams in a bowl with cold water and kosher salt for an hour. Wash them through afterwards. Heat a large pan over med-heat with the garlic and 2 tbsp of oil.
  • Fold in the clams, cover with a lid and cook for about 5 mins, until the shells open and they release the liquid. Turn the heat off and discard the garlic.
  • Once ready, filter the clams liquid and set aside. Remove the clams from their shells and set them aside, use some of the shells for decoration and discard the rest.
  • Heat a large pan with 1 tbsp of oil over med-heat. Add in the carrots, celery and onion, thyme and bay leaves. Saute for 5 mins, stirring occasionally.
  • Add in the potatoes and bacon, stir fry for a min, then pour in the clams liquid. Cover with a lid and cook until the potatoes are softened.
  • Pour in the double cream, season to taste and bring to a boil. Turn the heat off and discard the bay leaves.
  • Blend the mixture until smooth. Transfer back to the pan, add in the reserved clams, sprinkle with parsley and chili and season to taste.
  • Stir all ingredients, then divide the chowder among plates and serve with toasted ciabatta.
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