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New England Clam Chowder is a rich and creamy soup recipe with tender clams, diced potatoes and bacon in a rich stock. You can make it in a pressure cooker, Instant Pot, or on a stove top. This is the best chowder to make for dinner on a cold night!
This is hands down my all time favorite soup recipe. I have not eaten a clam chowder that tastes better than this one! I won’t even order it at restaurants anymore. However, I do realize that I don’t live anywhere near a source of fresh clams. As a result, it is possible that a better clam chowder recipe is out there somewhere. My daughter begs and begs for this as well, so despite the 120 degree temps outside, I made it for her.
What’s the difference between Boston and New England Clam Chowder?
There is absolutely no difference between Boston clam chowder and New England clam chowder; they are different names for the same soup. However, there are a couple of other versions, including Manhattan clam chowder, which has a tomato-based broth, and Rhode Island, which has a clear broth.
Before you move down to the clam chowder recipe, I’m warning you now that I make this in a traditional stove top pressure cooker. It can be made in an Instant Pot or on the stove top in a regular pot as well). Pressure cookers have come a long way and are really safe. My favorite stove top brand is Kuhn Rikon, but there are a lot of other really good brands as well. And I love this one too. They are AWESOME!
Also, I use a couple of specialty ingredients, but they are worth it!
Special Ingredients for this Clam Chowder Recipe
- Ultra Gel
- Clam Base
To thicken clam chowder, I use an instant thickener. Ultra Gel is my choice because it is non-GMO and works very well Also, instead of clam juice, I use clam base. It adds a wonderfully rich seafood flavor to the chowder. You can make the chowder using clam juice instead, and it is still really good, but the clam base takes it over the top!
When I serve the soup, I like to set up a toppings bar with bowls of:
- shredded cheddar cheese
- crumbled crispy bacon
- scallions, and
- oyster crackers.
It makes things much easier. Plus, this way, everyone can top it the way they like it the best.
Other Chowder Recipes
If you like thick, creamy soups, be sure to check out my recipe for potato chowder as well.
- 6 slices bacon, cut up
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 20 ounces canned clams, with juice
- 2 Tbsp clam base
- 1 cup celery, chopped
- 4 potatoes, diced
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 3 cups half and half, whipping cream, or milk**
- 2 tbsp cornstarch OR Ultra Gel (instant thickener)
- 1/4 cup vegetable broth
- In 5-6 quart pressure cooker, fry bacon until tender. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels (reserve about 2 slices for topping). Deglaze pot with butter and onion. Add garlic and sauté until vegetables are tender.
- Add clams, clam base, celery, potatoes, broth, and spices. Bring to a boil. Put on pressure lid and bring to second red ring. Time for 3-5 minutes, then drop pressure immediately under cold water. (Or boil on the stove top until the potatoes are tender.)
- Add half and half and heat through. Thicken with Ultra Gel to get desired consistency (or whisk 2 tbsp cornstarch with 1/4 cup broth and stir into the chowder, adding more if needed).
- Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.
**I usually use a combination of whatever milk I have on hand and whatever (unflavored) half & half we have for our coffee.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1.5 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 573Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 123mgSodium: 969mgCarbohydrates: 50gFiber: 3gSugar: 13gProtein: 37g
This nutritional information is an estimate may vary, depending on brand and type of ingredients used. It is not intended to replace the advice of a licensed dietician or physician.
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Originally published 10/5/11, Updated 1/29/2020