A Christmas Tradition, Clam Chowder – Step-by-step

IMG_0851Our family has always liked New England style clam chowder. We have used various recipes over time but recently we adapted one that we originally found on Recipezaar, created by Derf, her version, Recipe #14134.

We liked this recipe originally because it has lots and lots of clams. In our house, rarely does a recipe that we start with end up exactly as it was originally posted. My son, Dan, who is not a soup lover normally, liked this recipe enough that he bought the ingredients and we made it twice in November. Dan loves to cook as much as I do and he has learned that fine-tuning a recipe to meet your own taste is part of the creativity in cooking.

Here’s our variation:

Clam Chowder − Walraven Style

Time: 50 Min | 15 minute prep time

  • 1 lb bacon, cut into small chunks
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped or sliced to your liking
  • 3 stalks celery chopped
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 16 ounce chicken broth
  • 5 medium potatoes chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust to your level of hot)
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 3-4 tablespoons Wondra flour (made by Pillsbury)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 cups 2% milk
  • 4 (10 ounces) baby clams, undrained
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  1. Fry bacon in large Dutch oven until almost done. (We added more bacon than the original recipe which had 3-4 slices)
  2. Add the onion, celery, and mushrooms to pot, saute until softened, then add potatoes and chicken broth. (There needs to be enough liquid to be able to cook the potatoes so add more or less broth as needed.)IMG_0848
  3. Season with salt and cayenne, cover and cover for 15 minutes.
  4. In second large pan, melt butter, whisk in flour, whisking to make a roux.
  5. Cook for about a minute, then add all milk and whisk while adding.
  6. Watch for thickening, cooking over low heat. We found that it wasn’t as thick as we wanted so we added Wondra flour in increments until it was thickening to a pretty thick mixture. (This is part of what makes it so good.)
  7. Pour into onion and potato mixture, add 2 cans of claims with the juice and 2 cans of drained clams, reserving the juice to use if needed if you think it is too thick.IMG_0847
  8. Stir and gently cook over low to moderate heat until heated through.
  9. Add parsley if desired.

The magic happens when you make this a family event. Dan and I made it together the first time and his friend, Lee, joined us the second time. My kitchen has always been an open kitchen and I have welcomed help and innovativeness.

I think it is as important for boys to learn to cook as girls so I have always encouraged my sons to play a role in the kitchen. Dan is as handy in the kitchen as he is as a carpenter.

We last made this on Friday after Thanksgiving and the fun we had in the kitchen was my Thanksgiving. I love that feeling of community.

Give this a try and see what you think!


  1. Davina on November 29, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Oh yum, this looks and sounds scrumptious (especially the bacon)! What is Wondra flour? I hear it’s not available in Canada. And with me being on a gluten-free diet, I would have to substitute with something else.

  2. Davina on November 29, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Oh that would be easy then. I could use rice flour, or corn starch or a gluten-free product called xanthan gum. Great. Thanks for this recipe. I tweeted and saved in my favourites. I’ve been finding quite a few good recipes lately through blogging and twitter.

  3. Kim Woodbridge on December 10, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Julie – that looks so good that I almost wish I wasn’t a vegetarian 🙂

  4. Executive Resume Writer on September 24, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    OK, my mouth is watering now.

    This looks delicious! Can’t wait to try it. 🙂


    • Julie Walraven on September 24, 2010 at 8:17 pm

      Thanks, Erin! Enjoy! If it’s going to feel like fall outside, then I will make soup and celebrate! I love summer but I can’t control the weather so I just make special moments whenever I can. Dan’s fun to cook with.

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