Clam Chowder is amazing, and my choice for one of the best soups to learn how to cook. It is a great first soup to begin your soup cooking journey on, because it has all the fundamental steps in cooking soup. You have to saute the bacon, soften the vegetables, add flour to mop up the grease, and milk as a thickener. If you can learn how to cook this quick clam chowder, you
are going to get great experience for cooking more soups.
I’m a west coast guy so most of my clam chowder experience is from Seattle and the Bay Area, so this chowder is very pacific northwest. My favorite clam chowder is actually from this place called Ivar’s. For me, there is nothing better than a bowl full of Ivar’s clam chowder and some tabasco. If you have not tried tabasco with clam chowder I encourage you to give it a try. I picked up the tabasco tip while working in San Francisco with a friend, and eating some chowder at Boudin Bakery. I think tabasco gives the soup an added flavor and kick that is just the right amount of amazing.
Tips for cooking Quick Clam Chowder
- Salt is your friend, but don’t add too much at one time – You already have bacon so don’t go to heavy-handed on the salt.
- Mince your vegetables smaller than you think – I would mince the celery and onions pretty small, but if you like bigger chunks of potatoes you can leave them bigger.
- When you are cooking the bacon – If you start to see the bottom of your pot getting black then you don’t have enough water or you are cooking the bacon too long. You want the bacon grease, but you don’t want the burned bacon bits in the soup.
I adapted this quick clam chowder recipe from Kenji’s salmon chowder recipe here. He makes a great recipe of fish chowder, that also is a great foundation for clam chowder too.
Quick Clam Chowder
- 1 dutch oven or pot
- 1/2 lb Bacon
- 2 cans Chopped clams in clam juice
- 1 Onion
- 1 bottle Clam juice
- 1 quart Whole milk
- 1 Russet potato
- 1 Bay leaf
- 2 Celery
- 2 tbsp Water
- 2 tbsp Flour
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 tsp Black pepper
- 5 drops Tabasco per bowl
- 1 package Saltine crackers
- Get Ingredients
- Wash, peel and dice your onion
- Wash and dice your celery
- Cut your bacon into 1/2 slices
- Wash, peel, and dice your potatoes
- Put 2 tbsp of water into the dutch oven, and the put in the diced bacon. Heat on medium heat. The water makes it so your bacon doesn't burn, and your soup doesn't have burnt flakes in it.
- Cook for about 8-9 minutes until all the bacon is almost brown, but not quite brown. You don't want fried bacon, you want cooked bacon. The water should almost be gone, but it can be hard to tell because the oil looks like water. If the liquid is bubbling like fried oil, you are done.
- Add in your onions and celery, and cook until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Do not add potaotes, they will become too soft if you add them now. I then add about 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper here.
- Add the 2 tbsp flour to the top of the mixture, making sure to spread it out around the pot. Mix in the flour into all parts of the soup. This will thicken the soup and get all that grease from the bacon. This is an important step as it will further make sure you soup is not darkened by the grease or bacon.
- When you can't see anymore flour add in your clam juice. Do not add clams yet.
- Add in the whole milk, and stir the mixture together.
- Add potatoes and bay leaf, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes. If you like your potatoes softer then simmer towards the 20 minute mark, if you want your vegetables a little harder then then 15 minute mark.
- At the 15 minute mark you are going to add your chopped clams. First drain your chopped clams, you don't want to add the juice. Then add your clams to the pot.
- I add about another 1/2 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of black pepper here. I would then do a taste test for yourself. If you want it more salty go ahead and add in 1/2 tsp increments. I would be careful about adding the pepper though, it can really get peppery quick.
- Make sure to fish out the bay leaf before serve, it is dangerous to have floating in your soup.
- Cook for another 5 minutes and you are good! Serve with hot sauce (I'm about that tabasco), and crackers (oyster or saltines).