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"Clam base" for New England Clam Chowder? Also: do you use potatoes as a thickener?

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I have tried making clam chowder myself several times. All the recipes I have found suggest using "clam juice" in the soup. But clam juice never seems to add the clam flavor you find in a good cup of restaurant style chowder. Usually the soup turns out disappointing.

My question is, would any of you suggest using clam base? And if so, is there any brand you prefer?

Also, I have heard of people using potatoes potatoes as a thickener in lieu of flour. Does anyone recommend that?

tia for any suggestions.

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  1. I'm sure most restaurants add some clam base to their chowders, possibly in addition to the clam juice. My favorite brand is Custom Culinary, Minors and Majors are also good. Avoid Knorr unless you get low sodium. Also if you put whole clams in until they open you'll get even more clam flavor.
    And again, a lot of restaurants use potatoes (boiled til mush or instant) to thicken the broth. It's a quick fix kind of thing at the end to get it just right.

    1. I make chowder from Jasper White's book on the subject. He starts with what he calls "strong fish stock" which is made from bone, heads etc. of non-oily fish. This is the base for most of his chowders. I've never used anything except my own fish/seafood stock.

      I only use potatoes for thickener, not flour. In the book he has a recipe for restaurant-style chowder (obviously inferior in his opinion) which uses a roux and, I think, clam juice.

      1. James Beard, I think (of all people) suggested used of INSTANT MASHED POTATOES as a soup thickener, but I've never had the guts to try this.

        1 Reply
        1. re: baltodog

          when I worked in as a cook sometimes we had to quickly thicken up a cream soup, we used instant mashed pototoes, and it did work. I wont eat instant mashed potatoes, so you wont find them in my home pantry.

          When I make New England clam chowder, I use clam juice, no clam base. Also heavy whipping cream.. To thicken I have cubed potatoes in my recipie, and do use a small ammount of a very thin roux., between that and the potatoes it comes out as I like it.. if you dip the spoon in it coats it with the broth... I like my chowder to be the consistancy of a rich cream soup, not like a dish full of walpaper glue.