Tag Archives: Christmas Eve

New England Clam Chowder for a crowd


New England Clam Chowder

Chances are that if you spent Christmas Eve at our home you’ve had a big bowl of my homemade New England Clam Chowder.  It’s been a family tradition of ours for nearly 20 years to serve piping hot New England Clam Chowder, fresh baked rolls, sourdough bread, pints of beer, flutes of prosecco and sparkling apple cider.  Whenever I prepare the chowder, I make a large vat of it…  When I say vat, I mean two and a half gallons or enough to serve well over a dozen people.  That’s a lot of chowder!

I don’t think I’ve ever made this recipe on a small scale before…  And this is the first time that I have written down the recipe.  Whenever I prepare the soup, it’s from memory and taste. Since the recipe makes about 10 quarts of chowder, be prepared to spend a couple of hours preparing the soup.  It’s just that large quantities of soups take longer to cook than recipes for 4 to 6 people.

My New England Clam Chowder is a wonderfully hearty and creamy soup with tender clams, diced potatoes, onion, celery and bits of bacon.  I then finish the soup with a bit of half and half to lend a bit more creaminess to the chowder and then garnish with a sprinkling of fresh chopped parsley for color.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 4 cups chopped clams
  • 1 – 51 ounce can of clam juice
  • 12 cups diced potatoes (russet)
  • 7 cups of water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1 pound bacon
  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • canola oil (as needed)
  • 1/2 gallon whole milk
  • 2 tsp old bay seasoning
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 cup of half and half
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Place 12 cups of potatoes in a covered pan.  Add 7 cups of water and 1 tsp salt.  Cover and boil over medium heat until potatoes are tender (be sure not to over cook the potatoes).  Drain, cover and set aside.  Meanwhile, sauté the onions, celery, a big pinch of salt in 2 Tbs butter.  Cook until onions are translucent.  Remove from heat and place onions and celery aside for later.

In a large pot, cook the bacon.  Remove bacon from the pot and set aside.  Add 1 1/3 cup flour to the bacon grease.  Add canola oil to the mixture (if needed) in order to make a thick batter like consistency.  Cook on medium low heat, stirring constantly for about 3 to 4 minutes (light roux).  Slowly add the clam juice (not the clams!) and milk whisking constantly.  Cook until thickened or about 20 – 30 minutes.

Chop the bacon into small bits.  Add the bacon, Old Bay Seasoning, white pepper, potatoes, onion, and celery and continue to cook until hot and almost to a bubble.  Don’t let the soup boil or let it stick to the bottom of the pot.  When the soup is nearly done, add clams, parsley, half and half, salt and black pepper to taste.  Cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutess.  Taste the soup and correct your seasonings.  If there’s a floury taste to the soup, just cook it a bit longer.  If it’s too thick for your liking just add more milk or half and half.

Ladle hot soup into cups or bowls and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.  Serve with crusty sourdough bread or fresh baked rolls.  Makes about 10 quarts.

Orange Pomegranate Salad

Orange Pomegranate Salad

The holidays are fast approaching and I am already planning our meal for Christmas Eve.  It’s a family tradition that every year on Christmas Eve I make a huge pot of New England Clam Chowder to share with my family and friends.  With the chowder, I serve up finger foods, fresh baked breads, salad and dessert.  Since the chowder is the only item on the menu that does not change from year to year, I try to think of different and fresh tasting dishes to serve with the soup.

While I am thinking about what I am going to serve with the chowder, our family is busy decorating our home for the holidays.  Bruce’s responsibility is to put up the lights out in the front of the home, and my job is to decorate the dining room and living room.  I love doing that.  It’s one of my favorite things to do.

This is what my dining room looked during the last Christmas season.  Last year, I focused on red and green colors.  This year my plan is to decorate with white and silver.  I want my dining room to have a shiny cold sparkle to it.  The table will be removed and 2 eight foot tables will take its place on Christmas Eve.  That’s what I do every time we have a large gathering in our home.  What I have in mind this year is crisp white table cloths, white candlesticks with snow covered greenery.  The three little trees that you see above are now covered with little white birds, silver ornaments and shimmery snowflakes.

One of my white birds.  I snagged about a dozen of these at a craft store last week for about a dollar each.  I would have bought more but I cleaned out the bin…

Silver pine cone ornament.  My Mom gave these pine cone ornaments to me earlier this year.  These pretty ornaments are on the same trees as the white birds.  Can you believe that this ornament is made of plastic?  Could have fooled me…  I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not ashamed of decorating with plastic ornaments.  I like plastic ornaments because they are pet and child friendly, they don’t shatter and when they fall off the tree, all they do is bounce!  And what’s even better about plastic ornaments…  They’re inexpensive.

I just love the holidays!  In my opinion, it’s not about the gifts or the food.  It’s all about spending quality time with family and friends.  I want everyone who visits our home to have a wonderful time and have fond memories of our time together.

I have made the decision to serve my Orange Pomegranate Salad on Christmas Eve.  It’s light, plates beautifully and won’t leave my guests stuffed once I start ladling up steaming hot bowls of chowder.  My Orange Pomegranate Salad is made with fresh naval oranges, pomegranate seeds, watercress, radish shoots, crunchy pepitas and a tangy pomegranate vinaigrette.  It’s easy, bright and delicious! Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 6 large naval oranges, peeled and sliced.
  • 3 cups water cress (use more if you like)
  • 3 cups radish shoots (use more if you like)
  • 6 Tbs toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 6 Tbs fresh pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/8 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/8 cup pomegranate vinegar
  • 1 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Begin by cutting off the peel from the oranges.  Slice each orange into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Arrange on six salad plates with water cress, radish shoots, pomegranate seeds, and pepitas.  Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the canola oil, rice vinegar, pomegranate vinegar, brown sugar, ginger and salt.  Drizzle the vinaigrette on the salads when ready to serve.  Serves 6.