Creamy Cape Cod Clam Chowder

On Cape Cod, clam chowder means quahog chowder. Quahogs are large hard-shell clams, also known as chowder clams, and they are abundant on the Cape. Quahogs have a wonderful flavor that makes a distinctive chowder. Chowder is a dish of humble origins and if often relies on “found foods” like fish you catch yourself or clams you dig. Clam chowder is like apple pie in that everyone has his or her concept of what it should be like (usually people like their mother’s version best). In the spirit of true home-style chowder making, this recipe depends on potatoes to lightly thicken the chowder; no other starch is added. I use salt pork, which imparts a mild richness to the chowder; you can substitute bacon for a smokier flavor. This chowder can be served in small cups as a starter or in larger bowls as a main course. Serve toasted common crackers (see Notes), Pilot crackers, oyster crackers, or saltines on the side for a little crunch.

Yield: 6 servings ( Serving Size: Bowl )
Community Recipe from


  • 10 pound(s) Quahogs Could use large cherry-stone clams
  • 24 ounce(s) Meaty bacon Cut into small (1/3-inch) dice
  • 4 tablespoon(s) Unsalted butter
  • 4 Medium yellow onions (about 12 ounces), cut into ½ -inch dice
  • 4 clove(s) Garlic Finely diced
  • 2 head(s) Celery (4 ounces), cut into 1/3-inch dice
  • 2 Large dried bay leaf
  • 12 sprig(s) Fresh thyme Leaves removed and chopped (1 tablespoon)
  • 6 pound(s) Russet Potatoes cut into very small cubes
  • 4 cup(s) Heavy cream
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt or sea salt
  • 1/4 cup(s) Fresh parsley Chopped
  • 2 cup(s) water
  • 8 can(s) canned clams 2 minced 6 chopped


  1. Equipment:
  2. 4- to 6-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid
  3. Fine strainer
  4. Directions
  5. 1. Scrub the clams and rinse well. Place them in a large pot, add the water, cover, and turn the heat to high. Once you see a little steam escape from the pot, let the clams cook for about 5 minutes. Remove the lid and quickly move the clams around in the pot so they will cook evenly, then cover and cook for 5 minutes more, or until the clams open.

  6. 2. Pour off the broth and reserve. After it has settled a bit, strain the broth, leaving the bottom ½ inch of broth (and sediment) in the container. You should have about 4 cups. Remove the clams from the shells, place in a bowl, and refrigerate until cold.

  7. 3. Dice the clams into small (1/3- to ½ -inch) pieces. Cover and refrigerate.

  8. 4. Rinse and dry the pot and heat over low heat. Add the salt pork and cook until crispy and brown. Add the butter, onions, garlic, celery, thyme, and bay leaf and sauté, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for about 10 minutes, until the onions are softened but not browned.

  9. 5. Add the potatoes and 4 cups reserved clam broth. The broth should just barely cover the potatoes; if it doesn’t, add more broth or water. Turn the heat to high, cover the pot, and boil vigorously for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are soft on the outside but still firm in the center. Smash a few potatoes against the side of the pot and stir them into the chowder to lightly thicken it.

  10. 6. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cream and diced clams. Season with black pepper; you may not need salt (the clams usually add enough of their own). If you are serving the chowder within the hour, just let it sit and “cure.” Otherwise, let cool to room temperature and refrigerate it; cover it after it has chilled.

  11. 7. When ready to serve, reheat the chowder slowly over medium heat; do not let it boil. Ladle into cups or bowls and sprinkle with the parsley.

  12. Notes
  13. Working Ahead: All chowders improve after they are made, so allow at least an hour from the time the chowder is cooked until it is served. You can make the chowder 1 or 2 days in advance. Reheat it slowly; never let it boil.
December 2011

This recipe is a personal recipe added by pjbutler and has not been tested or endorsed by MyRecipes.

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