Aunt Margie's

Homemade Clam Chowder

A quick argument can be had by loudly saying New England, or Manhattan-style, clam chowder is the best. It won’t be long before you have a heated discussion. I grew up with the New England style and by default, clam chowder is white. That’s not to say red chowder is bad. It is really quite good, too.

When Aunt Margie and Uncle Carroll returned from Pismo Beach holidays we would see clam chowder quite often. Clamming at Pismo Beach was once the great rage. The nice thing about a recipe like his one is that it makes a very good chowder from canned clams as well as fresh. You can enjoy it long after the clamming season is over.

Preparation Time : 2 hours

Serves 6 to 8 persons as main dish

Heirloom Recipe: from the book

Cooking With Aunt Margie

  • 2 or 3 slices bacon
  • 2 stalks celery, fine dice or diagonal cut
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh chives or parsley for garnish, if desired
  • 1 medium yellow onion, fine dice
  • 1 medium carrot, fine dice, or 1 cup peas and carrots, frozen
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning®
  • 1 cup or more chopped clams (if canned,include the juice)
  1. You will need a frying pan and a soup kettle (8-cup). In the frying pan, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon to paper towel. Remove and reserve all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat from pan. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Fry celery and onion until onion just starts to brown; season with salt and pepper.
  2. In soup kettle, add chicken broth, clam juice (if canned), potatoes and peas and carrots. Heat over low heat until simmering, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender; season with Old Bay Spice mix.

  3. Add flour, cook and stir until roux starts to darken. Add cream and milk, cooking and stirring until smooth and the sauce thickens. Add sauce to potato mixture in soup kettle, heat to a simmer and continue while cooking and stirring.
  4. Cook and stir until thickened. Add chopped clams and heat through. Ladle soup into bowls Crumble the bacon and add bacon crumbles. Garnish with fresh snipped chives or parsley.

  5. Some Options: Aunt Margie used chicken broth making a velouté style sauce as well as sautéed vegetables giving a dark cast to the finished chowder. Most other clam chowders use clam juice and as a result appear a much more milky white. If you prefer a whiter sauce for your clam chowder use clam juice instead of the chicken broth and simmer your vegetables instead of sautéing them.
  6. To eliminate the bacon fat in the recipe (as well as a lot of the flavor) just use vegetable oil to sauté the vegetables and sprinkle the completed dish with bacon flavored bits.
  7. Aunt Margie’s original recipe used just carrot, fresh and diced. I add the frozen peas and carrots for additional color contrast and appearance. Often I will just simmer the peas and carrots until just done and them add them to the completed chowder at the end maintaining better vegetable colors. A sprinkle of paprika never hurt either.
  8. Aunt Margie would fine dice the celery. The celery and the onions would almost disappear leaving the clams and potatoes as the only textural elements in the chowder. My wife Janis does dearly love her celery and I cut the celery in diagonal slices, making little crescents, so she can see and taste the celery in her chowder.

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Latest revision done August 2013
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