Clam chowder purists should probably not continue reading. This recipe is a quick and simple way to make a pretty close copy of a New England (cream based) clam chowder on a budget. There are canned clams, canned milk and canned potatoes in this recipe. You have been warned.
OK, now that I have the disclaimer out of the way and the clam chowder purists have left the page in a huff, I can get on to the rest of this post! I really like New England style clam chowder. But doing it the traditional way can be a slow process. My clam chowder recipe is orders of magnitude better than the canned stuff you buy at the store, but I’m not going to tell you it would win awards when placed next to something that took hours to prepare.
This recipe makes about 3-3.5 quarts of soup. Scale it as needed.
- 2 12-oz cans of evaporated milk
- 2 15-oz cans of diced new potatoes
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons bacon grease (or fry a couple strips and much the bacon while you make soup)
- 2 6.5-oz cans of minced baby clams (or 4 cans if you want even MORE clams!)
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 6 teaspoons corn starch (7-8 if you like thick chowder)
- salt to taste
In a large pot, on medium high heat, cook chopped celery in bacon grease until it starts to soften a little. Then add in the onions and cook until they, too, are soft.
Open the cans of clams and potatoes and dump them in. Do not pour off the water from these cans! Use a little extra water from the faucet to rinse out the yummy bits from all four cans.
Allow this to cook on medium high heat for 20 minutes or until the celery is completely soft and has no crunch left.
Add both cans of evaporated milk. Reduce heat to a simmer, cooking for another 20 minutes.
While the soup is simmering, add white pepper and salt to taste. In my recipe, I wound up using about a teaspoon of kosher salt. If you’re using table salt, it would be about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon.
Also, prepare the thickener (corn starch). Put the 6tsp corn starch into a jar with about a cup of water, put on a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously to blend and make sure there are no lumps.
After the soup has simmered, shake up the corn starch mixture again and add it to the soup. Bring the soup back to a strong simmer to make sure that all the starch has done its thickening job. If the soup is too thick, add a little bit of milk.
Adjust salt level if you need some more. Allow to cool a bit and serve.
This soup always tastes better if you let it rest in the refrigerator overnight before serving. I know this because I usually eat a bunch right away (I can’t wait!) and then eat leftovers the next day. It always tastes better on day 2.
For you purists that are still reading, well, you asked for it. Corn starch and no roux to thicken? Heresy! Canned clams? Burn him at the stake! Canned milk? Sacrilege! And canned potatoes? zOMG..OMG.
Well, I have and can make clam chowder the proper way. However, sometimes I just want a quick and tasty meal that only takes about 10 minutes of prep and 30-40 minutes to simmer. That sure beats the prep time for the real deal.
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