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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.