You've made it through the holidays in 2020, which is something to be proud of. While the weather outside is frightful, make a big ol' batch of this comforting take on New England Clam Chowder. It's cozy, delicious and pairs perfectly with some homemade garlic bread. Oh, and it only takes about 30 minutes of active time, so you can make it any night of the week.
If you have a case of the Mondays (or a longstanding case of the 2020s), there's nothing quite like a bowl of creamy soup to brighten your day. And if that soup just happens to be a little bit easier to make because it relies on canned clams - a Schuering pantry staple - then we're really on to something. Do yourself a favor and make this comfort food classic ASAP.
If you're feeling fancy - or just want to transport yourself to the wharf without actually traveling - hollow out a round of sourdough and use it as your bowl. Edible bowls? Now that's the kind of New Years Eve dinner I can get behind this year.
Table of contents
- Why This Recipe is Awesome
- How to Make Mom's White Clam Chowder
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Need more cozy weather inspiration? Check out these other recipes:
Why This Recipe is Awesome
My Mom's version of clam chowder is one of my all-time favorite winter meals. It's creamy and delicious, but not so thick that you're wondering if it should actually be classified as stew. Oh, and I don't add a roux to this one, instead letting the potatoes do all the thickening themselves. That makes this a gluten free clam chowder recipe!
I also love that it requires mostly pantry ingredients that I happen to have on time at almost any time. Bacon, onion, potatoes, canned clams, and cream make up the majority of ingredients. Pull some parsley and thyme out from the spice rack, and add a few glugs of Worcestershire and a few shakes of hot sauce and you're basically there.
The secret ingredient, the one that you *might* have to make a special trip for, is something that completely changes the flavor profile of the white clam chowder from "pretty good" to "ohmygod just hand me the pot and a spoon" good. Dry Sack Sherry, the unicorn ingredient, is something I keep on hand for basically just this recipe.
Don't worry though - if you buy a bottle to make this yummy clam chowder recipe, it'll be just fine hanging in your bar for a few years. And considering how tasty this soup is, you should have exactly zero problem going through it by then.
How to Make Mom's White Clam Chowder
Part of the beauty of Mom's clam chowder recipe is how easy it is to make. With just about 30 minutes of active time on your part, a delicious and flavorful bowl can be on your dinner table tonight.
First up, you're going to want to render the fat from your bacon. I like to use scissors to cut my bacon (thus keeping my cutting board clean for my veggies), but you can also semi-freeze the bacon to make it easier to chop if you prefer.
Set up your heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until the bacon is beginning to crisp up and the majority of fat is in the pan. Depending on the bacon, it may not be much at all. If needed, add a glug or two of olive oil so there's enough to sauté the onions (~1 ½ tablespoons).
Add the diced onions to the pan and stir. Sauté for about 4-5 minutes, until the onion is beginning to soften and become translucent on the edges.
Add the potatoes and stir to coat them with any remaining bacon fat.
Sprinkle with some salt and pepper, then add the clams and their juice, half and half and spices. Bring to a simmer and taste to get an idea of how salty your broth is. If needed, add some salt. You want the potatoes to have flavor, so you need the salt at this step!
Let simmer until the potatoes are fork tender. Add Worchestershire, a few shakes of hot sauce (I like Crystal or Tabasco for this application) and salt and pepper to taste. Finally, remove from heat and stir in your dry sack sherry.
Serve with a sprinkle of fresh parsley and some buttered sourdough for the coziest dinner around. Or if you're doing that whole fancy thing, serve it up in a bread bowl, using the lid as your toasted buttered bread. YUM!
Frequently Asked Questions
I have cream and I have milk, but I don't have half and half. Help?
I've got some news for you: half and half is half cream, half milk! You DO have half and half, you just need to mix it together in equal parts.
Should I use chopped or minced clams?
I prefer chopped clams since they have a bit more heft. That said, you're welcome to use a mix of both or opt for minced if that's what you have on hand!
Can I make this clam chowder ahead of time?
Absolutely! Like with most soups, clam chowder gets better after a day or two. It will last for up to 5 days in the fridge in a lidded container.
Can I freeze clam chowder?
Since clam chowder has a good bit of cream in it, it isn't the best candidate for freezing. I recommend eating it within 5 days of making it.
My chowder is feeling a little thin... any ideas on how to thicken it up?
Usually, the potatoes thicken this up enough for my tastes. However, if you're used to more of a stew-like consistency, you can thicken it up further. Add about 2 tablespoons of milk to a sauté pan and melt it. Add 2-3 tablespoons of AP flour (depending on how thick you like it) and make a roux. Cook until the flour mixture smells nutty.
Use a bit of the chowder broth to stir into the roux. Continue adding broth and whisking until the roux is a pourable consistency. Add it to the pot, then simmer for 5-10 more minutes before serving.
Need more cozy weather inspiration? Check out these other recipes:
- Instant Pot Navy Bean Soup
- Chicken Divan Casserole
- Instant Pot Split Pea and Ham Soup
- Moussaka Style Lamb Shepherd's Pie
- Instant Pot Loaded Baked Potato Soup
If you tried this recipe for my Mom's White Clam Chowder, let me know how you liked it! I'd love to hear in the comments and reviews below.
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White Clam Chowder
- 6 slices Bacon cut into ¼" bits
- 4 C Yellow Onions small dice
- 3 lb Yukon Gold Potatoes medium dice, skin on is ok!
- 6 cans Chopped Clams and their juice
- 2 C Half and Half
- 1 tablespoon Dried Parsley
- 1 tablespoon Dried Thyme
- Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoon Worchestershire Sauce
- Hot Sauce to taste, preferably Crystal or Tabasco
- ¼ C Dry Sack Sherry
- Set up your heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until the bacon is beginning to crisp up and the majority of fat is in the pan. Depending on the bacon, it may not be much at all. If needed, add a glug or two of olive oil so there's enough to sauté the onions (~1 ½ tablespoons).
- Add the diced onions to the pan and stir. Sauté for about 4-5 minutes, until the onion is beginning to soften and become translucent on the edges.
- Add the potatoes and stir to coat them with any remaining bacon fat.
- Sprinkle with some salt and pepper, then add the clams and their juice, half and half and spices. Bring to a simmer and, if needed, add some salt. Let simmer until the potatoes are fork tender.
- Add Worchestershire, a few shakes of hot sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Finally, remove from heat and stir in your dry sack sherry. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh parsley. Enjoy!
- Due to the cream content of this soup, it isn't great for freezing.
- Eat within 5 days of making for best results.
- If you prefer a thicker soup, make a roux in a separate sauté pan. Melt 2 tablespoon butter with 2-3 tablespoon AP or GF Flour. Cook until nutty and light brown, then whisk in enough of the clam chowder broth to make it easily pourable. Add to the soup pot, stir to incorporate and simmer for 5-10 minutes.