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ISO best thick, creamy New England Clam Chowder recipe

My non-Chowish husband loves clam chowder...CANNED clam chowder, that is thick, creamy, etc. I have tried various from-scratch recipes but haven't hit pay-dirt yet in getting one that is thick, creamy and flavorful enough. Any help out there?

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  1. New England (white) Clam Chowder is never thick. You might want to try the LUNDY'S cookbook.

    1. If you want it thick, I would add more of a roux to start. Here is my "recipe". I usually just feel out amounts so you may have to fiddle with it.

      Saute about 1 chopped yellow onion in 3T butter. Sprinkle in (4 T) flour & cook until almost light brown. Pour in juice from 5 of those small cans of minced & chopped clams ( I use some of each). Simmer until thick and pour in whole milk (6/7 cups?). Simmer again and add diced yukon gold potatoes and reserved clams. Cook until potatoes are tender but still firm. S&P to taste.

      1. In my experience New England clam chowder is neither thick nor creamy. It is made with salt pork, onions, boiling potatoes, whole milk, clams, pepper, and butter.

        The thick and creamy stuff was developed for restaurants and cafeterias where they have to keep it at serving temperature for long periods of time.

        The real stuff is much better to my way of thinking.

        1. The poster is asking for creamy chowder, and either of the above suggestions could be augmented with thick cream. That's how I would finish the soup.

          1. Salt pork, fresh shucked clams, light cream, finely chopped onion, salt, pepper, fresh parsley, butter, a bit of sherry and plenty of real oyster crackers from Vermont. (sorry I can't supply the amounts as I never use a recipe).

            1. This one is thick and creamy:


              I haven't had it in years but I loved the Sail Loft's NE clam chowder in Boston. They finished it off with fresh dill and it made a big difference.

              2 Replies
              1. re: chowser

                I second the suggestion of the Skipjack's recipe, which as written is creamy without being overly thick (1/4 c flour for over 4 cups of liquid--though admittedly, one of those cups is half and half!). I personally go a little lighter on the roux when I make it, but if you really want gloopy, you could increase it as others have noted...

                1. re: chowser

                  I tried this recipe a couple days ago and it tasted pretty good. It's also quite simple to make.

                2. You're opening a can 'o worms here, I'll warn you. New England clam chowder purists recoil at the suggestion that this dish should be thickened, with a roux or with anything else. And you do find a lot of chowder-makers around here (Boston area) who turn out thin stuff, like milk with clams, potatoes, etc. in it. It can be very good that way. But so can the thicker kind, I think. The most important thing is to use really good clams.

                  1. NE chowders are thickened by roughly mashing the potatoes which are cooked with the stock, salt pork etc. The starch from the potatoes thickens the chowder. Depending on the amount of potatoes you use and how much you smush them, you'll get a thicker or thinner chowder. I've never used a roux, never found it necessary.

                    IMO the quality of the stock and clams determine how good the chowder will be. I follow Jasper White's instructions and get excellent chowders. This is his recipe:


                    4 Replies
                    1. re: cheryl_h

                      Get some good instant mashed potatoes and add until it's the thickness you want.

                      1. re: coll

                        Um..isn't that an oxymoron? "good instant mashed potatoes"??? (Ducking)

                        I think I'd rather mash up real potatoes instead.

                        1. re: wyf4lyf

                          I love real mashed potatoes too, but don't always have an hour to make them. Anyway, in this application, dehydrated potatoes are essential. Now when I say "good", I mean something like the Basic American line of Potato Pearls or Excell. If you haven't had them, you won't realize how good instant can be, actaully better than from scratch in many ways. And you probably have had them especially if you get take out from chicken and rib places or the like. I'm very pleased that my fussy husband likes these better than homemade, so I can serve them all the time. And as a thickener for soup, they are unparalleled. Instant mashed have come a long way, there have been a lot of improvements since the 60s and 70s.

                        2. re: coll

                          I used to HATE the chowder a relative made with powdered spuds ;-) & over time I adjusted my recipe to add diced potatoes in two stages, and the "early-added" ones (as well as a bit of half/half and butter) thickened it up, with the "later added" ones providing nice potato cubes - I also prefer bacon to salt pork

                      2. B&G Oysters purees a part of their soup, then reincorporates it, to give it a thickness of sorts. Very good, IMO.

                        1. Go to Fanny Farmer. She may not have invented clam chowdah, but she has pretty well nailed it.