New England Style Clam Chowder, the Paleoish Version

Creamy, New England style clam chowder is probably one of those foods high up on many people’s “comfort food” list. Me too. The problem is: you don’t know how much flour is typically in it, it often tastes more like a mildly clam flavored milk gravy made from a roux, doesn’t have enough clam, has too much potato, or is the consistency of wallpaper paste.

I have solved all of those problems. This recipe will give you delicious, creamy clam flavor in every bite and slurp.


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  • 24 fresh whole clams
  • 2 cans (6.5oz ea) of quality chopped clams (of course you can use all canned, all fresh, or whatever mix you like—those 24 clams come out to about the equivalent of one can).
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 2 bottles of quality clam juice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups celery, diced
  • 1-2 inches of carrot, finely chopped (mostly for color)
  • 1 handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1 rounded tablespoon dried thyme (or equivalent of fresh)
  • 1-2 tablespoons finely ground black pepper (to taste, I like a lot)
  • 1-2 tablespoons salt (to taste)
  • 1 quart half & half
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1/2 cube butter (I always use unsalted)


  1. Get all of your clam juice together in one pot, i.e., the two bottles, and drain the juice from the 2 cans. Add your white wine (you can use cooking sherry, too). Bring to a light boil, toss in your fresh clams, and watch closely for them to open. Immediately take them off the heat, strain them, keep all the clam juice, then remove the clam meat from the shells and chop. Put all the clams from the cans and your chopped clams together and set aside.
  2. Slice, dice and fry your 4 slices of bacon. Add it to the pot, drippings and all.
  3. Peel and cube your potatoes, dice your onion, and introduce them to the clam juice  / white wine / bacon and bring to a boil. When soft, take a potato masher and do THREE (not 1 or 2, not 4) mashes in the pot in different places. This will release enough starch to give you a nice thickening texture, but nowhere near a paste. This also alleviates any need to use a flour roux or thickener, per all recipes I’ve seen.
  4. Now add your celery, carrot, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper, half & half, cream, and butter. In other words, add all ingredients except the clams. You might want to hold off on the salt & pepper to the very end if you’re concerned about too much.
  5. Bring it to a very light simmer / boil for maybe 10 minutes, until you get the creamy consistency you deire. Turn off the heat, stir in the clams and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. You don’t want to overcook the clams, unless you like them rubbery. If you do, cook away.
  6. Serve. For a meal it will serve about 4. For an app, it’ll cover 8 people.
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It was the best clam chowder I have ever had. Delicious clamminess in every bite and slurp. Don’t overlook the black pepper. In fact, I added more to my bowl after this picture was taken. Also, I think one more can of clams would have been just fine as well.

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  1. Mary in FL on November 11, 2012 at 11:29

    After you post how much wine to use, you may delete my comment. ;)

    • Richard Nikoley on November 11, 2012 at 12:14

      There you go. 1 cup added to the ingredient list. You can use more if you like. I didn’t actually measure. I rarely precisely measure anything.

  2. Ronnie Mayles on November 11, 2012 at 12:41

    [Irrelevant n=1 stuff about Dr. Robert Atkins and his health deleted. -RN]

    • Ronnie Mayles on November 11, 2012 at 22:57

      [more stupid shit, deleted. -RN]

      • Ronnie Mayles on November 12, 2012 at 01:33

        [and even more snippy stupid shit deleted. -the fascist]

  3. Dane Miller on November 11, 2012 at 17:02

    Now I know what we’re having for dinner tomorrow night.

  4. fartArtist on November 11, 2012 at 23:57

    Rich, I know you’ll say no to this as you have every other time someone mentions it, but I think you really do have something to offer via the way of a cook book (nb: I did not say “Paleo Cookbook”). You could do so much more than the usual list of recipes that make up most of the offerings in this category. I would imagine something you would write to be more of a cookery lesson. Anyway, feel free to delete this comment if you need to although I would prefer you to use profane language to discourage me and others from bringing this topic to your blog again.

    I would suggest compiling one over a couple of years, bit by bit. Don’t force yourself into it. Steady as she goes will do. I know you also say there are too many cook books out there already but cook books are like underwear. Once you’ve worn them a couple of times you’ll be looking for a new pair.

    • fartArtist on November 12, 2012 at 00:08

      People also like to give cook books as gifts, so timing is everything when it comes to releasing this stuff. This is a dumb idea and you’ll surely shoot this one down, but has anyone done a Paleo Christmas Cook Book? Publish under a pseudonym of course – your dog’s name perhaps…

  5. EF on November 12, 2012 at 06:59

    I find that a couple dashes of real Tabasco adds a great edge to complement the creaminess of NE clam chowder.

  6. Karen C. on November 12, 2012 at 08:25

    Do you have brand recommendations for the “quality” clam juice and canned clams?

    • Richard Nikoley on November 12, 2012 at 09:40

      I forget what brand those are, but it wasn’t the major brands and I got it at a high end market. A bit more expensive, but not a lot.

      • Bay Area Sparky on November 12, 2012 at 09:48

        Here’s the brand of canned clams and clam juice:

      • Richard Nikoley on November 12, 2012 at 15:53

        I never, ever add water to any soup ever. I use stock instead. In this case, with the 2 bottles of clam juice and juice from the two cans, there was plenty of liquid. Came out exactly right with the three mashes and the addition of H&H and cream.

      • Bay Area Sparky on November 12, 2012 at 09:47

        Just looking at the photo of ingredients (unless I’m mis-identifying them) it looks like the clam juice is the same brand as the canned clams.

        Also did you do as many chefs do and use some chicken stock as well? There seems to be a paper liquid carton of something to the left of the half and half.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 12, 2012 at 09:50

        I had the chicken stock on hand in case some thinning was needed after the half & half & cream were added—because I never use water for that sort of thing. But it wasn’t needed.

      • Bay Area Sparky on November 12, 2012 at 15:46

        That’s interesting.

        Why do you not add water?

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  8. Paul Halliday on November 14, 2012 at 14:42

    I’ve been doing a number of seafood based cream soups recently. You’ve inspired me to track down some clams and do this properly.

    Being a Brit, “proper” Chowders are foreign to me, but I guess I can follow the French influence over to the States and come together with something from several recipes. That’s the great thing about cooking – I’ll read a whole different bunch of recipes and come up with something absolutely different.

    I reckon a splash of gin with pep up a Chowder.

    • Paul Halliday on November 14, 2012 at 14:43

      Damn my lysdexia … “will pep up a Chowder”.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 14, 2012 at 14:57

      Well, you’re a Brit, so any excuse to get in a slash of gin is OK with me. BYW, I love Bombay Saphire and Henrick’s.

      I also do the same thing all the time. I’ll have an idea about something and then Goolge and read anywhere from 6-12 recipes. Other times, I just got it alone.

  9. Len on November 21, 2012 at 10:18

    This looks delicious, will be making it this weekend. What’s 1/2 cube of butter? Is a cube the same as a stick?

  10. Caljill on January 26, 2013 at 10:52

    This is NOT PALEO APPROVED INGREDIENTS, you should not advertise it as such… “heavy cream, half and half, cubed butter” WHAT??????????????

    • Paul Halliday on January 26, 2013 at 16:50

      I know … I mean … he cooked it! Paleo man didn’t cook his food. For shame.

      Shit, Paleo man didn’t even find the sea, let alone know what the fuck to do with shellfish ’til … well, 160,000 years ago … it’s just not Paleo. It really isn’t.

      Niko – You’re a loser! Post more Brontosaur steaks.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 26, 2013 at 11:20

      Bla bla bla. Don’t you have anything better to do than try to police how people wish to refer to their food?

    • Joshua on January 27, 2013 at 07:27

      Because the suffix “-ish” denotes approval by nonexistent authorities. mmm hmmm…

  11. Amy C on February 21, 2016 at 13:39

    THIS IS DELICIOUS! Thank you for the recipe

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