Recipes Soups Seafood Soups New England Clam Chowder with Leeks and Bacon
New England Clam Chowder with Leeks and Bacon

New England Clam Chowder with Leeks and Bacon

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6 Serves 4 to 6.
The slightly sweet flavors of the leeks and bacon highlight the natural sweetness of fresh clams in this elaboration of a classic chowder. Fresh bay scallops would also be good prepared this way. Serve with crusty bread or oyster crackers.


  • 36 clams in the shell, well scrubbed
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 lb. lean bacon, rind removed, coarsely chopped
  • 1 leek, including tender green portions, trimmed, carefully washed and thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups light cream
  • 1 lb. red potatoes, peeled or unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh parsley


Discard any cracked or open clams. In a large pot, melt 1 Tbs. of the butter over low to medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until it begins to soften, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the water and wine, raise the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly. Immediately add the clams, cover and steam just until they open, 7 to 10 minutes.

Line a strainer with a cheesecloth and set inside a large bowl. Pour the contents of the pot into the strainer; discard any unopened clams. Set the clams and strained liquid aside separately.

Rinse out the pot, add the remaining 1 Tbs. butter and place over medium heat. Add the bacon and sauté until it just begins to brown. Add the leek and sauté until it begins to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute more.

Stirring continuously, pour in the reserved clam liquid and the cream. When the liquid reaches a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the potatoes and thyme.

Pull the clams from the shells. If they are large, cut them into 1/2-inch pieces. When the potatoes are tender, after about 15 minutes, add the clams and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes more. Season with pepper. Ladle into warmed bowls and garnish with the chives and parsley.
Serves 4 to 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library Series, Soups, by Norman Kolpas (Time-Life Books, 1993).