Clam chowder is one of those dishes with an insanely amount of recipe variations. Not only does this stew differ from region to region, but even within the same region people have their own personal variations.
My recipe does not attempt to recreate any specific, regional clam chowder. Honestly, the first time I made it, I just winged it to create a hearty stew with what I had in my kitchen. The results were very tasty so I figured why mess with success, right?
The first thing you need to know about my recipe is that it is completely natural, lacking of preservatives and unhealthy ingredients. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Secondly, you can make this clam chowder any time of the year because the ingredients are available all year long. Lastly, I make my clam chowder with frozen clams that come inside of their shell. Many of use don’t have access to fresh clams so frozen are a great alternative. Also they tend to be much less expensive than ones from the seafood counter at the grocery store.
Let’s get to the recipe and afterwards I tell you how it tastes.
- a 2.2 lb. or one kilo bag of frozen clams, thawed in the refrigerator overnight
- five cups of filtered water
- quarter cup or 25 grams of finely chopped white onion
- one stalk of celery, finely chopped (about ½ cup or 65 grams)
- one tablespoon of minced garlic
- one cup or 150 grams of finely chopped carrot (about 1 large one)
- one lb or 453 grams of potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- broth from boiling clams (see instructions below)
- one cup or 237 ml of whole fat milk (alternatively you can use cream)
- 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
- fine sea salt, to taste (start off with a teaspoon then adjust as desired)
- one teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or adjust to taste
- one large handful of roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
- The day before, place the bag of frozen clams in the refrigerator to defrost. The next day, and once they’re completely defrosted, thoroughly rinse the clams under cold water to remove sand. You may have to do this a couple of times. Fill a bowl large enough to fit the clams with ice cold water and a half a pinch of sea salt, then place the rinsed clams into it and allow to sit for 10 minutes. (At this time you can start prepping the vegetables.) After the 10 minutes are up, pick up each clam, one by one, and place it into a colander; then discard all of the soaking water. Rinse the clams one last time, then proceed with instructions below.
- Place the throughly cleaned clams into a pot, then pour in 5 cups or 1.20 litters of water (it should be enough liquid to cover the clams by ½ an inch). Cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes under medium-low heat — keep an eye on the pot because it can boil over. Gently remove, one by one, each of the clams and place into a bowl or colander to cool. You need to discard any clams that are not open, but we will be reserving the boiling liquid. After removing the cooked clams, strain the boiling broth through a very fine mesh sieve — making sure no debris or sand get in the broth, then set the broth aside.
- In a clean large pot, melt the unsalted butter, once melted add and sauté the onion and celery bits for a few minutes. Next add the minced garlic, carrot and potato pieces and sauté for about 8 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour, salt and black pepper, then stir the ingredients well. Now pour 3 cups or 720 ml of the boiling clam broth, and the cup of milk or cream. Cover and allow to simmer under medium-low heat for about 25 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through.
- While soup is simmering, we can finish up the clams. Now that the clams have cooled down and you can handle them, gently remove each one from its shell. (Remember that any unopened clams need to be discarded.) After all the clams have been removed, begin to roughly chop them up — not to finely though. Put them into the pot with the other ingredients, add the parsley, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste the the broth to see if more salt and/or pepper need to be added — remember this is to your taste, I usually add another pinch of salt and pepper. If adding more seasoning continue to simmer, uncovered for a few more minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
As the clams cook you will smell the sea in your kitchen. The chowder is chunky with bits of potato, carrot, and clams floating in it. The broth is creamy, velvety, and tastes of clams followed by peppery notes. It is a simple soup that perfectly hits the spot.
I think you’ll love this super easy, simple, and healthier clam chowder.
If you’d like to make a complete meal around the chowder, you can serve it like I love to: a steamy bowl of clam chowder with slices of socca (A chickpea flour flatbread that can be topped like pizza). For the version of socca you see in the photo above just follow the instructions in the recipe for the socca, then top with sautéed or roasted bell peppers, a drizzle of olive oil, and sunflower sprouts.