Brothy Clam Chowder

by Nov 11, 2023

Clam Chowder cooks quickly and is something you can whip up on a moment’s notice if you have a few ingredients on hand—three bottles of clam juice, three cans of clams, bacon, potato, and a cup of cream. The simplicity of this chowder depends on quality clam juice and clams and the best I’ve found are from Bar Harbor in Maine.  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 with their cooking classes back in the Bay Area.

Brothy Clam Chowder

adapted from Pam Anderson who I assisted at Draeger's Cooking School

Servings 6


  • 2 slices bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces Beeler's
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil optional
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 8-ounce bottles clam juice Bar Harbor
  • 3 6.5-ounce cans chopped clams, save the juice! Bar Harbor
  • 3 small waxy potatoes, like Yukon Gold, peeled and diced approximately ½-inch
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme or ¼ teaspoon dried
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • a few sprigs fresh parsley, leaves stripped and chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Cook the bacon until crisp in a heavy stockpot over medium heat. Remove the crisp bacon pieces to a plate and set aside for later. To the bacon drippings (alternatively, you can pour off the drippings and add a tablespoon of olive oil) add the chopped onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

  2. Whisk in the bottled clam juice, juice from the canned clams, and 1 cup water. Add the diced potatoes, bay leaf, thyme, and simmer 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Add the clams, cream, reserved bacon, parsley, and heat gently without boiling. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes / Tips

  • If you like a thicker chowder, add a flour-based roux. When your onions have softened in step 1, add 3 tablespoons flour and cook for a minute then proceed with adding the clam juice etc.  
  • In advance: Do everything except add the cream. When you are serving the chowder, bring it to a simmer then add the cream and gently heat through without boiling.  
  • Fresh clams are wonderful, but kind of another level. If you want to do a hybrid presentation, steam a couple pounds of clams in 2 cups water, ½ cup white wine, a couple cloves garlic for 6–7 minutes. Strain this "clam nectar" and add it into the soup. Reserve the clams for adding with the cream just before serving. (Before you steam the clams, soak them in a bowl of fresh water in the refrigerator for a couple hours. Scrub the shells before steaming to minimize grit.)


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