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Lighter New England Clam Chowder

  • Author: Ali
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6 -8 servings 1x


This delicious New England Clam Chowder recipe is lightened up a bit with a few simple tweaks, yet still just as creamy, hearty and delicious as ever!


  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, ends trimmed and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 (8 ounce) bottle clam juice
  • 4 cups plain milk (I use 2% milk)
  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold or red potatoes, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 (7-ounce) cans minced clams (not drained, keep the juice)
  • sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
  • optional garnish: chopped fresh chives or green onions, dash of hot sauce


  1. Heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat.  Add diced bacon and cook until crispy, stirring occasionally.  Transfer the bacon to a separate plate using a slotted spoon, reserving about 2 tablespoons of bacon grease in the stockpot.  (Discard any extra grease, or you can substitute butter in place of the 2 tablespoons of bacon grease.)
  2. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add celery and garlic, and sauté for an additional minute, stirring occasionally.  Add flour* and stir until combined.  Sauté for an additional minute to cook the flour, stirring occasionally.  Add in the clam juice and stir until combined.  Add in the milk, potatoes, bay leaf, Old Bay, thyme, half of the bacon bits and stir until combined.  Continue cooking until the mixture reaches a simmer, stirring occasionally.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft, stirring every few minutes so that the bottom does not burn.
  4. Once the potatoes have softened, stir in the clams and half of the cooked bacon.  Remove the bay leaf.  Taste the soup, and then season with salt and pepper as needed.
  5. Serve warm, garnished with the remaining bacon bits and any other desired toppings.  Or store in a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.


*Feel free to omit the flour and 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease if you would like to lighten this soup up a bit.  And instead, to thicken the soup, simply mash or puree some of the potatoes before adding in the clams.