Recipes for "Chowder"

Ken Jones

Staff member
Posted by Ken Jones

I've always loved "chowder" whether it be New England-style, a white, milk-based chowder, or Manhattan-style, a tomato-based chowder. Each is quite different but most recipes for both are pretty similar, i.e., New England almost always is a variation of bacon, onions, potatoes, clams, clam juice, and milk. Additional spices can vary but generally they aren't too different. The same with Manhattan-style chowder. There are some different recipes (such as those seen in North Carolina, a New England-style chowder but without the milk) but most call for more of this or less of that. Start with the basic ingredients and keep it simple and you should have a good chowder. However, there are also fish chowders and here the varieties seem to increase. And, sometimes the recipes for chowder stretch the limits and become more of a ciopinno or fish stew recipe (and there's nothing wrong with that). Herein a little variety of "chowder" recipes.

For many years I owned the Horn of Zeese Restaurant up in the redwoods of Mendocino County. The "Horn" was in Boonville, midway between Cloverdale and the coast (28 miles each way). Every Friday we would make up a BIG pot of New England-style (white) clam chowder, which would usually be gone sooner than I expected. People would come from as far as the coast to get the chowder even though Fort Bragg seemed the logical place for fish and chowder. I'm sure the fact that I used a lot of clams made a big difference. I made it the way I wanted it myself even if it meant not making as much profit as possible. And, I never put it inside a bread bowl like so many do today. Unfortunately after a while I didn’t even use a recipe, I just made it from memory. So, here I am modifying the (commercial) amounts I used and hopefully coming up with a product as equally good as that at the Horn of Zeese.

Basic New England-Style Clam Chowder


• 4 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces
• 1 onion, diced
• 2 stalks of celery, skinned and cubed
• 4 medium-sized potatoes, cubed
• 2 (ten-ounce) cans of chopped clams
• 2 cans of clam juice (approximately 10 ounces each)
• 1 quart milk (or half and half for a richer chowder)
• 1 tablespoon salt
• 1/4 tablespoon pepper
• 3 tablespoons butter
Optional — 1 tablespoon of corn starch (don’t over do it like too many restaurants do)


• Fry the bacon in a small skillet over a low heat until brown, about five minutes.
• Add the diced onion and cook until it’s soft, about three to five minutes.
• Pour the oil from the skillet into a larger pan while reserving the bacon and onion.
• Add the clam juice to the larger pan and bring to a boil.
• Add the cubed potatoes and celery and cook until tender.
• Add the clams and simmer for about 5 more minutes.
• Add the bacon and onion, milk, butter, and the salt and pepper into the mix.
• If a thicker consistency is desired add a small amount of corn starch. Mix the corn starch in a couple of tablespoons of water so that it is a liquid itself before adding it to the chowder.
• Keep the chowder hot (but do not let it boil).

Some people add a little dried parsley, a little thyme, or a teaspoon or so of dill weed, but I didn't. Some sprinkle the bacon on top of the chowder but I didn't. Don't be afraid to experiment (and I am sure there are hundreds of clam chowder recipes on the Net).

• Serve with some sourdough bread, French bread, or crackers (preferably oyster crackers).

Posted by Ken Jones

From Pier Fishing In California, 2nd Ed. — The following recipe is from a little book called The Mendocino Peasant Cookbook, and can be used for any mild white-fleshed fish. Especially good are lingcod, rockfish, and halibut.

Lingcod Chowder


• 3 Tbs. oil or butter
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 1 medium green pepper, chopped
• 2 medium tomatoes, chopped and seeded
• 3 cups cubed, cooked potatoes
• 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (or to taste)
• 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
• A few drops of Tabasco
• 1 quart of milk
• 4 ounces cream cheese, whipped
• 3-4 medium lingcod fillets, cut in chunks
• 1-12 ounce can corn, with liquid
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper


Sauté the onion, green peppers, and garlic in butter or oil until tender. Add tomatoes, and spices. Blend cream cheese with one cup of the milk; add to chowder with the rest of the milk. Add potatoes. Simmer 10 minutes. Add cod and corn. Simmer 8-30 minutes more (do not boil) or until flavors are blended and the fish begins to flake. Adjust seasonings and serve immediately with crispy French bread and green salad.

Posted by Ken Jones on February 10, 2006

I'm not sure where I got this recipe but it's a very good and very rich recipe. Unfortunately, as seen in the comment below, it's also a little pricey and perhaps too rich for some if the ingredients are followed as listed. Feel free to modify as desired.

Smoky Salmon-Clam Chowder


• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 small onion, chopped
• ½ cup sliced celery with leaves
• 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
• 1 cup fish or chicken broth
• 1 ½ cups milk
• 3 cups diced red potatoes
• ½ cup diced carrot
• 1 pound hot-smoked salmon, flaked
• 2 (3.66-ounce) cans smoked clams, drained
• 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded smoked mozzarella cheese (I've also used smoked Gouda cheese when I couldn't find the smoked mozzarella)
• 2 cups half-and-half
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add onion and celery, and sauté until tender. Whisk in flour; cook 1 minute.
Gradually whisk in clam juice; broth and milk. Stir in potatoes and carrot. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Stir in salmon, clams, cheese, and half-and-half. Cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Stir in salt and pepper. Ladle soup into individual serving

Posted by kaleo

With the cooler weather, I tried out the smoky chowder recipe that Ken posted last week. For what its worth, here's how it came out.

First off, this is not a cheap recipe. If you have your own smoked fish sitting around, it'll be considerably cheaper: the 1 pound of smoked salmon ran me $20. The smoked clams weren't bad, about $2/tin, but they were a little harder to find — there were plenty of smoked oysters in the market, but only one brand of smoked clams (Geisha) hidden amongst the Cannery Row detritus. Throw in a pint of half-n-half, smoked mozzarella, a bottle of clam juice, and some veggies, and the supermarket card-swipe machine will actually smirk at you.

I found the recipe itself to be straightforward and easy to follow. It took me about 50 minutes from when I started chopping veggies to when I ladled out the first bowlful.

I served this chowder to myself and the wife with a really good sourdough (Acme Bakery's Sour Batard) and a really good ale (Anderson Valley Brewing Co's Boont Amber).

The result? Tasty. Very tasty. And very very rich. Monte said it: "holy rich flavors, batman!" My wife is a big fan of chowders, but this stuff is rich enough that she was only able to eat half a bowl before she was full. The predominant flavor is smoked salmon, so much so that the clams are only a background note. I was worried that the smokiness would be overdone with smoked salmon, smoked clams, and smoked mozzarella, but the smokiness was perfect. Inspired, actually.

I will definitely make this chowder again, but I'll probably customize it a bit. 1) Less salmon, maybe 1/2 as much. Smoked albacore would probably be an excellent substitute, might try that. 2) 1 or 2 more cans of smoked clams, they're yummy and deserve more prominence. 3) More chopped celery would be good, I think I'll up it from 1/2 cup to 1 cup. 4) A little bit of red pepper flakes might liven up the background some.

I think this recipe will be a good basis for future chowder experiments...

Posted by Ken Jones

Some of you might remember the smoky-clam chowder recipe I posted. Kaleo mentioned that it was a pretty expensive and almost too rich. The last two times I made it I reduced the amount of smoked salmon and the cost. I used two 3-ounce packages of smoked salmon, flaked, instead of the called for one pound of hot-smoked salmon. Both my wife and I felt it was just as tasty. It's still rich but not over-powering.

Posted by Songslinger on July 5, 2004

(In reply to: Anyone have a really good clam chowder recipe? Posted by StripeSideChaser on July 4 2004

I used to make this by the tureen back in my chef days in Illinois, hence the ingredient quantities. But cut it down to size and it will be amazing.

New England Clam Chowder

• 5 cans clams (translate to fresh with a couple cups of water)
• 2 stalks celery
• 1 diced onion
• 6 diced potatoes
• 2 bay leaves (whole)
• 4.5 Tbsps salt
• 1 Tsp black pepper
• 1.5 cups milk

• 4 lbs butter to 6 cups flour
• (melt butter and slowly make a paste of the flour: this is primo thickener)
• Combine everything but milk and get into a boil. When ingredients are tender, add milk and then the roux. Bon apetit.

Posted by DSRTEGL

What's this? You don't sweat your celery and onions with finely diced salt pork or thick cut hickory smoked bacon first? Finely diced honey-cured ham works as well. I even have a slightly sweet version that has sweet Maui onions and diced apple in it that is awesome served in small hollowed-out sourdough loaves. $@($^(@^^$(^@!(^$. Gotta stop doing that, I made myself hungry......DIETS SUCK!!!

Posted by oldmanandthesea

A little Sherry added just before done ummmmm

Posted by frozendog

Who ate up all the clams? Just want to mention, that if you don't have any clams, all of these fine recipes work just as well with fish. One option is to dice it into bite-sized pieces. The other possibility, for people who like bigger pieces of fish in their chowder — on the fillet, chunk the thinner section above the rib cage and leave the back half, thinner section, whole. Or, if the clams are sparse, stretch it out with fish. If you want something really special, add shrimp with the fish and clams for a seafood combo — that's what I prefer.

Posted by Ken Jones

I like that last idea — "Seafood Combo Chowder"
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Ken Jones

Staff member
Posted by Ken Jones

The following clam chowder recipe was posted in the Monterey Examiner in 2011. It gives the recipe from the "Old Fisherman's Grotto" that sits on Monterey's Fisherman's Wharf. According to the newspaper, the restaurant is where "Monterey-style" clam chowder was created and supposedly it serves the best clam chowder in the city. It's hard to say since I haven't eaten at that many restaurants in Monterey but I have eaten at the "Old Fisherman's Grotto" and the chowder was good.

Old Fisherman's Grotto Monterey Clam Chowder (New England Style)


• 1 carrot (diced)
• 1 medium-sized onion (diced)
• 1 medium-sized potato (diced)
• 1 celery stalk (diced)
• 1/2 lb of bacon (minced)
• 1 stick of butter
• 3 garlic cloves (minced)
• 1/2 quart of clam juice (approximately 2 cups)
• 1 1/2 cups flour
• 2 cups whole milk
• 2 cups heavy cream
• 2 cups half-and-half
• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
• 1 lb of clams (chopped)
• 1/2 teaspoon clam base (optional)


• Melt butter in a large 5-quart pot. Add vegetables (except for garlic) and bacon. Sautee over medium-high heat until all veggies are tender.
• Add flour, mix thoroughly and cook for 2 minutes to create a golden roux. Stir continuously.
• Add dairy ingredients and clam juice. For best results, incorporate using a wire whisk.
• Add pepper, garlic, clams, and clam base (if you're using it). Cook over low-medium heat at a simmer for 2 hours or until chowder has reached your preferred thickness. Stir occasionally to ensure that it doesn't scorch.

Serving Suggestions — from the article

"As far as I'm concerned, Monterey clam chowder just isn't the same without some good sourdough bread to go with it. Try serving it in a sourdough bread bowl like they do at Old Fisherman's Grotto for a touch of authenticity! If a bread bowl sounds like too much for you, go for some generous sourdough baguette slices for dipping instead. If you don't consider yourself much of a bread person, consider sprinkling some oyster crackers on top for a little texture contrast and additional heartiness. You may also want to sprinkle some parsley or crumbled bacon on top for some visual interest and color contrast."
—Shannon Hilson, Monterey Chef Recipes, Monterey Examiner, January 8, 2011

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Ken Jones

Staff member
Here's a recipe for New England Fish Chowder" from my wife (not sure where she got the original recipe). It's pretty similar to most New England-style chowders.

New England Fish Chowder


• 4 cups water
• 1 pound white-fleshed fish (halibut, rockfish, bass, etc.)
• 2 tablespoons margarine
• 3 tablespoons shredded carrot
• 2 tablespoons diced celery
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh onion
• 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
• 3 1/2 cups skim milk, divided (I like whole milk)
• 2 cups peeled, diced potato
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper


• Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large skillet or pan. Add fish, cover, reduce heat, and simmer 7 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Remove fish from skillet with a slotted spatula; set aside.
• Melt margarine in a saucepan over medium heat. Add carrot, celery, and onion and saute for 2 minutes.
• Stir in flour. Gradually add 2 1/2 cups milk, stirring constantly with a wire whisk.
• Add potatoes, salt and pepper; reduce heat and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
• Add fish and remaining 1 cup milk; cook an additional 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Serve with some French bread, sourdough bread, or oyster crackers.

Ken Jones

Staff member
During one of my first trips to Seattle a friend took me to Ivar's Acres of Clams seafood restaurant that sits downtown on the waterfront. It was there that I had my first smoked sablefish (aka black cod), one of my favorite fish food items to this day. It also is where I first had smoked salmon chowder. This is their recipe and though it's not as rich as the Smoky-Salmon Clam Chowder recipe given above, it's excellent. I might add that they also have Ivar's Salmon House in the Northlake area and Mukilteo Landing in Mukilteo (next door to one of my favorite spots to go pier fishing in Washington). All of their restaurants offer up good, if a little expensive, seafood and I noticed recently that CostCo was carrying their clam chowder (frozen).

Ivar's Smoked Salmon Chowder

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed and sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 large stalk celery, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups milk (any fat content)
  • 8 ounces smoked salmon, flaked
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons chives, chopped

1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over low heat. Add the leeks and garlic and sautét hem for 2 minutes.
2. Add the potato, celery, salt, and pepper and cook over medium heat for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.
3. Add the broth and simmer until the potato is tender, about 15 minutes.
4. Add the tomato paste and milk, then the salmon, and bring the mixture back to a simmer for a few minutes (but don't let it boil, or the milk will separate).
5. As it simmers, stir in the cream.
6. Remove from heat, garnish with the chives, and serve.

Ken Jones

Staff member
One of my first jobs as a teenager was working at he Coffee Haven Cafe in Newport Beach. The job provided some spending money, the food was good, I had some puppy love for a waitress, and its location at the front of the Newport Pier allowed me the opportunity to go fishing on the pier before or after my shift at the restaurant. One thing quickly stood out, every morning the assistant manager would come in early to cook up a VERY BIG pot of Manhattan-style Clam Chowder. It was delicious and would always be gone before the end of the day. However, I never thought about gettiing the recipe before moving to San Diego. Later, when I began to visit Newport Beach after getting married, the restaurant had closed. Lucklly, I had discoverd the Crab Cooker Restaurant (located across the street from the pier) before leaving Newport Beach and their clam chowder, again a Manhattan-style chowder, was pretty much identical to that of the cafe (in fact I always wondered if the assistant manager from the cafe had moved over to the Crab Cooker). And though I have never found a chowder, any variety, that I did not like, my favorite remains the clam chowder served at the Crab Cooker in Newport Beach. I get it every trip to Newport Beach and together with the bread sticks it's about all a person needs for a meal. Unfortunately, they have never (to my knowledge) revealed their recipe. Here though is a good, basic Manhattan-Style Clam Chowder that should please all — from Taste of Home.

Manhattan-Style Clam Chowder

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2/3 cup chopped celery
  • 2 teaspoons minced green pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 cup cubed peeled potatoes
  • 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 cans (6-1/2 ounces each) minced clams, undrained
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley

• In a large saucepan, heat butter over low heat. Add onion, celery, green pepper and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes.
• Add water and potatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
• Add tomatoes, clams, salt, thyme, pepper and cayenne; heat through. Stir in parsley. Serve immediately.

Serve with French bread, sourdough bread or oyster crackers.