New England Clam Chowder

Clam chowder is a quintessential coastal comfort food - a creamy, hearty soup brimming with tender clams, potatoes and a medley of aromatic herbs, providing a delightful taste of the sea.

It is thought that clam chowder was created by the French and British in New England in the 1700s, but it wasn't served in restaurants until the 1800s. Many different variations, originating in different areas have appeared over the years, but the most popular one is that from New England. The historic dish’s recipe has changed throughout its history but today ingredients usually include clams, clam juice, cream, butter, flour, potatoes and a variety of herbs.

New England clam chowder is also very popular in San Francisco. Being on the bay, with clams and fresh fish aplenty, it makes the perfect location for a seafood stew. As it is a creamy, filling soup it is often eaten as a comfort food on cold days in New England, but in San Francisco you’ll find people eating clam chowder every single day. It's here that you’ll also see it served in a sourdough bread bowl, creating a delicious combination of flavours.

So whether you are looking for a new comfort food or just fancy a taste of New England, we’ve put together a recipe for a creamy clam chowder that we’re sure you’ll fall in love with.


•    150g unsmoked bacon lardons, cubed pancetta or chopped streaky bacon
•    50g unsalted butter
•    2 cloves garlic, minced
•    1 onion, finely chopped
•    ½ teaspoon dried thyme
•    1 tablespoons  flour
•    150ml milk
•    1½ kg clams or a mixture of clams and cockles
•    1 bay leaf
•    2 medium potatoes – about 250 grams, cut into cubes
•    150ml double cream
•    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
•    2 tablespoons chopped parsley
•    Crusty bread to serve

Creating your masterpiece

  1. Rinse the clams in several changes of cold water and drain well. Tip the clams into a large pan with 500ml of water. Cover, bring to the boil and simmer for 2 mins until the clams have just opened. Tip the contents of the pan into a colander over a bowl to catch the clam stock. When cool enough to handle, remove the clams from their shells – reserving a handful of empty shells for presentation if you want. Strain the clam stock into a jug, leaving any grit in the bottom of the bowl. You should have around 800ml stock.
  2. Add the bacon to the same pot and cook until brown and crispy. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, reserving around 1 tablespoon excess fat in the stockpot.
  3. Heat the butter in the pan. Add garlic and onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in thyme and bay leaf until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Scatter over the flour and stir until lightly browned, about 1 minute.
  5. Gradually stir in the clam stock, milk and cream until slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes.
  6. Throw in the potatoes, bring to a boil and then simmer until potatoes are tender, around 10-12 minutes. Use a fork to crush a few potato chunks against the side of the pan to help thicken (but make sure you keep plenty of defined chunks though.
  7. Stir in the clams until heated through, about 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper then stir in the parsley and bacon. Serve with/in hollowed-out crusty rolls.

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