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!

Original New England Clam Chowder
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: soup
Cuisine: american
Serves: 4
  • fresh clams 6.6 pounds (3kg)
  • potatoes, peeled and finely cubed 1lb (450gr)
  • carrot, finely diced 1 med-large
  • celery, finely diced 1 stalk
  • onion, finely diced 1
  • Bacon or Speck, finely cubed 3.5oz (100gr)
  • fresh double cream 1 cup (250ml)
  • bay leaves 2
  • fresh thyme 1 full tbsp
  • garlic cloves, lightly crushed 2
  • Extravirgin olive oil as required
  • fresh parsley, finely chopped 2 tbsp
  • red chili, finely sliced (optional) 1
  • kosher salt & freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Pour in the double cream, season to taste and bring to a boil. Turn the heat off and discard the bay leaves.
  7. 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 and serve with toasted ciabatta.



Tasty Newsletter

Get the latest delicious recipes and news straight into your inbox: