New England Clam Chowder

A Classic

My preferred clam is a big fat Rhode Island Quahog, but a smaller cherrystone will do. Quahogs aren’t sold very far from the coast, though, because most folks won’t eat them on the half-shell, considering them only fit for mincing for stuffies or chowder. But, that’s just another one of those misguided “expert” opinions as there is nothing so great as a mouthful of plump, briney-sweet quahog, chewed, not gulped.

In any case pound for pound of meat, quahogs are a better deal, and you can use fresh frozen clams and even canned minced clams, though the latter will not give you the fresh, briney seaside taste.


– 12 large whole live quahogs or 20 cherrystones, shucked over bowl to catch their juices
– 2/3 med. sweet onion, minced
– 4 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
– 6 tbsp butter
– 2 8 oz. bottles of clam juice
– 2 strips thick cut bacon, minced
– flour
– salt
– fresh ground black pepper
– whole milk


Mince the clams and drain any juice from the cutting board into the bowl of reserved juice from shucking the clams.

Fry the bacon in a large pot over med. heat till brown and crispy, add the onion and sautée till translucent. Add the parsley and butter, stir-in 4 tbsp of flour to make a paste, and continue stirring and flipping the bubbling paste to cook evenly for 2 minutes and prevent from sticking and burning. Add enough water to thoroughly dissolve the flour paste and continue stirring with a wooden spatula scraping along the bottom of the skillet to keep the cream sauce from sticking and burning. Add clam juice and the shucking and mincing juices then milk a little at a time, stirring regularly, to increase volume while maintaining rich consistency. Add the clams, turn-off burner, cover pot, and let clam flavor steep into the soup for 10 minutes before serving. Added at the end the clams retain their fresh sweet flavor and the character of the soup develops considerably.

Serve with oyster crackers.

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