Clam chowder is a New England specialty and perfect for a foggy day down by the shore. Being the prestigious dish that it is, it must be complicated, right? Not necessarily so. With a few tips and tricks, anyone can make a delicious chowder! First we’ll start by preparing the clams. Fresh cooked clams will give our chowder a classic feel that you just cant get out of a can.
New England Clam Chowder – Primary Ingredients
- 3 Lbs Fresh manilla or little-neck clams, cleaned and checked to make sure each one is still alive. If it won’t close when tapped, chuck it. If you like, you can soak them for about 20 minutes.
- Dry white wine (like chardonnay)
- A little lemon juice
- Optional herbs: thyme, fennel, tarragon, etc.
Cooking the Clams
- Begin with a deep saute pan or small pot. Any pan with a lid should work. Add the water, wine, and lemon juice until the liquid reaches half way up the sides.
- Bring the liquid to a simmer, then add the clams.
- Place the lid on the pan and allow the clams to steam for about 5- 10 minutes until they open.
- Remove the clams from the pan and pull the meat out of the shells. If you want, pinching with your fingers, pull the dark gut portion out of the clam meat and discard.
- Chop the clam meat and set aside. The fresh clams are now prepared.
Clam Chowder – Other Ingredients
The chopped clams you just prepared
- 1/2-1 Lb Bacon (chopped)
- 1 White onion (chopped)
- 4 Stalks celery (chopped)
- 2 Lbs Russet potatoes (peeled and diced)
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 4 Bottles clam juice
- 4 Cups chicken stock
- 3 Cups heavy cream
- 1 Cup dry white wine (same as above)
- 2 1/2 Tbsp chicken bouillon
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 2 Bay leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cooking oil, preferably canola
Final Clam Chowder Directions
- Once all your ingredients are prepared, begin by heating a large soup pot over medium high heat with enough oil to cover the bottom.
- Add the bacon to the pan and cook until its crispy.
- Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving the bacon grease in the pot for flavoring.
- Add the onions and celery to the hot pan and cook until they soften.
- Add the dried thyme and bay leaves to the pan.
- Add the butter and flour to the pot to create the roux. Cook the roux for about a minute until it turns a nice sandy blonde.
- Add the white wine to the pot and stir the contents. Simmer the wine until it has reduced to almost nothing and the alcohol smell has weakened.
- Add the potatoes, chicken stock, and clam juice to the pot.
- Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to a high simmer.
- Simmer for 20-30 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
- Add the clams and bacon to the pot and mix them in.
- Add the heavy cream and chicken bouillon to the pot.
- Season the soup with salt and black or white pepper. Serve and Enjoy!
Charles Borrowman is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute of San Jose, California and a lead instructor with Wolf Camp and the Wolf College. He runs our Backcountry Gourmet Camp Cooking Classes throughout western Washington & Oregon in May, runs the camp kitchen during our Backpacking into Wolf Country Outdoor Leadership Training Expedition in June, teaches during our Survival, Herbology, Tracking, Scout & Artisan Camps in July, leads our Epic Fishing Camp in August, and co-teaches our Honorable Hunting & Fishing Expedition in September where this clam chowder, along with shark and chips, wild cutthroat trout, dungeness crabs, and other wild meats are cooked to perfection.