Mom’s New England Clam Chowder

I love a good family recipe as much as the next person, but sometimes, even family keeps their best recipes under lock and key. Such was the case with my Uncle Chris: Married to one of my mom’s four sisters, unafraid to wear fuschia and white to my wedding, and completely unwilling to give me his family-wide famous “chowdah” recipe.

Well, as mothers often do, mine came to the rescue with her own delicious, classic New England clam chowder recipe. And boy, am I glad she did.

Thanks for the recipe, Mom!

Thick, creamy and full of fragrant carrots, onions, celery, chunky potatoes and soft clams, it was just as rich and flavorful as I remember. Served in a warm sourdough breadbowl, like all true New Englanders have to have it, my husband and I were instantly transported back to Boston, where we used to sit every cold winter weekend in Quincy Market, gobbling up breadbowls of hot chowder with our heavy coats and gloves still on.

It may not be bone-chillingly brisk in California, but you can bet it is in Boston. So, if you need an excuse to make this delicious chowder, just dedicate it to the New Englanders freezing their fannies off and enjoy your heaping spoonful with a big hunk of warm bread.

This recipe is easy, requires basic ingredients that you can find in any grocery store, and it is the creamiest, most delicious chowder you will ever eat! I hope you give a try sometime this fall or winter, and if you do, please let me know how it turns out for you! I’ll be sure to thank my mom on your behalf.

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Mom's New England Clam Chowder

Yield: Makes about 8 servings


3 (6.5 ounce) cans minced clams
1 cup minced onion
1 cup diced celery
2 cups cubed red potatoes
1 cup diced carrots
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 quart half-and-half cream
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Drain juice from clams into a large, deep skillet over the onions, celery, potatoes and carrots. Add water to cover vegetables, and cook over medium heat until tender, about 30 minutes.

In a large, heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. (Essentially, a very large roux.) Whisk in cream and stir constantly until thick and smooth. Heat through, but do not let it boil. Stir in vegetables and liquid.

Stir in clams just a few minutes before serving. If they cook too long they get tough. When clams are heated through, stir in vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Good idea to make this a day ahead - it will naturally thicken overnight in the refrigerator.

Serve with oyster crackers or crusty bread on the side, or in a sourdough bread bowl.



34 Responses to “Mom’s New England Clam Chowder”

  1. #
    Mom — January 10, 2011 @ 9:10 pm

    So glad you enjoyed that recipe, it’s a serious crowd-pleaser! If any food really brings you back to a certain place (Quincy Maahkit), this sure does! Luscious pictures, Georgia Gale, and the bread bowl is a great idea. xoxoxoxo (Moms always have to sign that way)

  2. #
    Brownievillegirl — January 10, 2011 @ 9:12 pm

    I love old family recipes .. thanks for this one.

    I’d love to have a bowl of this at the Quincey Market (I love Boston!)

  3. #
    Jessica @ bake me away! — January 10, 2011 @ 9:12 pm

    Mmm, I looove clam chowder, but have never tried making it! Still remember the bowl I had at Quincy Market many, many years ago. Thanks for sharing…this sounds delicious!

  4. #
    eatGREEK — January 10, 2011 @ 9:12 pm

    It looks delicious! If I had it right now I’m sure I would enjoy it! :D

  5. #
    Kelsey — January 10, 2011 @ 9:12 pm

    my mom really does make great clam chowder ;) and bread bowl, yum!

  6. #
    GreenGirl — January 10, 2011 @ 9:13 pm

    I like clam chowder but never made it
    yours looks and sounds so delicious, thanks for sharing

  7. #
    Monet — January 10, 2011 @ 9:13 pm

    This reminds me of the East Coast…and I love seeing recipes that are family favorites! I’m sure that you and your mom do an awesome job with this soup. On a cold winter day, there is nothing better than a big bowl of soup and a loaf of crusty bread. You and your man look adorable in that blustery weather. Thanks for sharing!

  8. #
    Betty @Scrambled hen fruit — January 10, 2011 @ 9:13 pm

    This “chowdah” looks great- so glad your mom shared her recipe. :)

  9. #
    Roxan — January 10, 2011 @ 9:13 pm

    Omg that’s so cute, I see that your mom commented on this! Hi, Mom!! :) Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipe with us. That was truly generous of you, I know many people keep some of their most treasured recipes close to their hearts.

  10. #
    Katrina — January 10, 2011 @ 9:13 pm

    This sounds amazing!! Mom’s recipe’s are the best.

  11. #
    Jenn's Food Journey — January 10, 2011 @ 9:14 pm

    I love a good chowdah… yours looks so wonderfully creamy and delicious! I’ve been looking for a good clam chowder recipe…I will definitely be trying this one! Thanks for sharing!!

  12. #
    Stephanie — January 10, 2011 @ 9:14 pm

    I love chowder and yours looks so creamy and delicious. As soon as it’s cold enough here in the desert for soup, this is first on my list!

  13. #
    StephenC — January 10, 2011 @ 9:14 pm

    The only thing that could improve this is the use of chowder clams. Go to your fishmonger, who should have them in tubs, probably frozen. They are quahogs, chopped up. They need to be simmered for 10 minutes or so to tenderize them, but they are superior by far to canned clams.

  14. #
    Pam — January 10, 2011 @ 9:14 pm

    Rich and decadent. There is nothing better than a piping hot bread bowl of chowder!!!

  15. #
    Deborah — January 10, 2011 @ 9:14 pm

    Well, I’m hungry and cold right now, so a big bowl of this would be perfect!

  16. #
    Baking Serendipity — January 10, 2011 @ 9:14 pm

    Mom’s recipes are always the best! This looks super comforting and delicious :)

  17. #
    Cristina — January 10, 2011 @ 9:14 pm

    There’s a place me and Hubby will travel to, about 45 minutes – for the best New England & Manhattan Clam Chowder. We just luv it and every time we are there I announce I’m going to learn how to make it (still hasn’t happened). Thank you for sharing this recipe!

    On another note…you’ve been tagged on my site, Georgia! Please stop by and check it out :)

  18. #
    Blackbookkitchendiaries — January 10, 2011 @ 9:14 pm

    thank you for sharing this beautiful recipe … your creations are lovely as always. have a nice weekend.

  19. #
    Jihane Jeanty (Sinful Sundays) — January 10, 2011 @ 9:22 pm

    I LOVE clam chowder and even though I was born and lived in Boston until I was six years old, i just recently had it for the first time like a year ago! I was so upset that I had missed out on it and blamed my mom for not making me American foods.

    I’m going to try this recipe sometime this winter! =)

  20. #
    Karyn — January 10, 2011 @ 9:22 pm

    As a new cook and lifelong New Englander, I was excited although nervous about trying your recipe. Having clam chowder on a regular basis from some of the best restaurants is a big daunting when trying to tackle the task in my mini kitchen. All that said, wow it was a complete success! Thank you so much! My husband couldn’t get over how great the soup was! I will certainly be making this again :) In the meantime, we have a lot left over to enjoy!

  21. #
    Georgia — January 10, 2011 @ 9:22 pm

    Karyn, even though it’s night time, this totally made my day! I’m so happy you and your husband enjoyed the chowder. Thanks so much for stopping by and letting me know how it turned out for you. Enjoy your delicious leftovers!

  22. #
    Rich — January 10, 2011 @ 9:23 pm

    You know, it’s not bone-chillingly brisk here in Dallas, either, but that is in no way going to stop me from making that chowder … I just hope I can find a suitable bread for the bowl somewhere!

  23. #
    enrolled agent cpe — January 10, 2011 @ 9:27 pm

    Seeing this clam chowder made me miss home. Good thing thanksgiving is just a few days away, I can finally have a taste of my mom’s home cooked meals.

  24. #
    Angie's Recipes — January 10, 2011 @ 10:14 pm

    wow I would love to taste the chowder! Looks soooooooooo yummy! And how cool you served it in a bread bowl!

  25. #
    Wendy (The Weekend Gourmet) — January 10, 2011 @ 10:14 pm

    Ah…this is giving me flashbacks to Boudin Bakery on the Wharf in San Francisco! We’re not clam lovers, but we went NUTS for their clam chowder in a sourdough bowl. I’d love to try making it from scratch…perhaps for our Halloween dinner and scary movie frightfest!

  26. #
    Susi — January 10, 2011 @ 10:14 pm

    Georgia, that clam chowder looks incredible. I love a good “chowdah” as does the rest of my crew and when it’s served in a bread bowl it’s pretty much comfort food at its best. I’m going to give this recipe a try since I’m still looking for one that comes close to the chowder they serve at the Pier in Seattle! Don’t mom’s have the best recipes ever? :o)

  27. #
    Anonymous — May 14, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

    Hi, thanks for this recipe, I made it for Mother’s Day yesterday, it was great and makes a lot so I froze a few portions. I could not bring myself to put in carrots though, so just added more celery and unpeeled red potatoes plus a splash of hot sauce with the vinegar and salt…..YUM…my husband loved it too….will make this again for special occasions….I love browsing your recipes and added you to my email.

  28. #
    Anonymous — July 1, 2012 @ 12:58 am

    I made clam chowder similar to this one but never put red wine vinegar. I’m just wondering will the vinegar give a sour taste to the soup?

  29. #
    Georgia | The Comfort of Cooking — July 1, 2012 @ 12:59 am

    No, it doesn’t give it a sour taste.

  30. #
    a-boleyn — July 28, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

    (Waves hello) I’m a new reader from Ontario, Canada and laughed at your account of your uncle’s refusal to share his recipe. I’m glad your mom stepped in with a save. Her recipe sounds similar to my own including the addition of wine vinegar at the end.

    To the person who asked about the taste of vinegar overpowering the taste of the chowder, I find that the flavour of the vinegar does mellow a bit so it’s not so overpowering the next day if you’ve accidentally added a bit more than you find you like. You may also choose to put a squeeze bottle or small container on the table so people can add a few drops to stir to their individual bowls. :)

    I look forward to reading other posts in the future.

  31. #
    Anonymous — July 31, 2012 @ 8:04 am

    I absolutely love clam chowder but haven’t had much success with it, probably because I’m always trying to lighten it up. Do you think this would work with fat free half/half? Thanks, I’m looking forward to trying this!

  32. #
    Georgia | The Comfort of Cooking — July 31, 2012 @ 1:10 pm

    Most likely, yes, you could use fat free half-and-half with good success.

  33. #
    Raven — September 4, 2012 @ 4:51 pm

    The red wine vinegar is a must in my chowder too, I just love any clam chowder! Thanks for the recipe!

  34. #
    Robyne — May 6, 2013 @ 3:16 am

    Great recipe – I would never have thought of the red wine vinegar – your recipe is now being used by quite a few of my friends here in Sydney Australia

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