New England-style Clam Chowder

Preparation info

  • Makes


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Lighter, Quicker, Better: Cooking for the Way We Eat Today

Lighter, Quicker, Better

By Richard Sax and Marie Simmons

Published 2000

  • About

Unlike an old-fashioned New England clam chowder, which is thickened with flour and enriched with heavy cream, ours is thickened with a puree of vegetables, and enriched with lowfat milk. In a pinch, canned or frozen chopped clams can be used in this recipe, but fresh ones are best. You can make the soup ahead, but it may need to be thinned slightly with a little more milk before serving.


  • 2 dozen small cherrystone clams, shucked, liquid reserved (see Note) or about 12 ounces shucked clams
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced lean cooked ham
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, trimmed, strings peeled, halved lengthwise, and chopped
  • 1 carrot, halved lengthwise and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 parsley sprigs, with stems
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, or as needed
  • 1 pound all-purpose or boiling potatoes, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and sliced
  • 1 cup bottled clam juice
  • 1 cup lowfat (1%) milk, or as needed
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • Hot pepper sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Paprika, for garnish


    1. Combine clam liquid with water to make cups and set aside. Heat oil and ham in a large saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring, for 3 minutes. Stir in onions, celery, carrot, garlic, thyme, parsley, bay leaf, and salt. Cover and cook vegetables over low heat, stirring from time to time, 5 to 7 minutes.
    2. Stir in potatoes, reserved liquid, and clam juice. Cover and boil until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove and discard thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. With slotted spoon, transfer slightly less than half of vegetables to a food processor or blender. Add a little liquid and puree. Return puree to soup. Add clams; simmer for 3 minutes. Add milk and bring soup almost to a simmer.
    3. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and hot pepper sauce. (Chowder can be prepared in advance to this point. Reheat without boiling.) Just before serving, add parsley and correct seasonings. Ladle hot chowder into bowls and sprinkle each serving with paprika.