Clam Chowder

by Feb 5, 2011

“The Sea in a Bottle”.  That’s what they say at Bar Harbor Foods, and their canned clams and clam juice do not disappoint.  I used them for a short-cut clam chowder and was delighted with the results.  My recipe is a riff on one I learned from Pam Anderson, author of The Perfect Recipe, one of the dozens of authors and chefs I had the pleasure of assisting at a local cooking school back in a prior life.  When I was making this, I got distracted and forgot to add the flour to the onions to make the roux, but you know what?  It was fantastic anyway.  That is what is so fun about cooking.  Sometimes, you make a mistake and it turns out to be, as we say in software, “a feature”.
Clam Chowder

Serving Size: 6


  • 2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cans (6.5 oz. ea) chopped clams; save the juice!
  • 3 bottles (8 oz. ea) clam juice
  • 3 small waxy potatoes, like Yukon gold, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 branches fresh thyme
  • 1 cup heavy cream (not ultra-pasteurized)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
  • sea salt & freshly ground black pepper


  1. Start by cooking the bacon in a large, heavy stockpot over medium heat. Cook bacon pieces until almost crisp, remove from pan and save for later. Pour off the bacon fat, discard, then add the tablespoon of olive oil. Heat the olive oil, add the chopped onion, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Whisk in the juice from the canned clams, the clam juice and 1 cup water. Add the diced potatoes, bay leaf, thyme and simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Add the clams, cream, reserved bacon, parsley, and heat gently without boiling. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy!

Amy’s Kitchen Coach Tips

  • If you like a thicker, less broth-y chowder, you will want to add the flour-based roux.  When your onions have softened in step 1, add 3 tablespoons flour and cook for a minute.  Proceed with adding the clam juice in step 2.
  • Never boil a soup that has cream in it.  The cream will separate and possibly curdle.  Not so delicious.
  • If you aren’t afraid of a little bacon fat, leave the bacon drippings in the pan after cooking the bacon, and cook the onions in that instead of adding the olive oil.

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