New England Clam & Corn Chowder

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Christina Ross
Christina Ross
I'm a human being on planet earth. I've lived hundreds of lifetimes. In this incarnation I'm here to advance medicine.

Boston is known for a handful of delicious foods, many of which also happen to be rich and highly caloric:

Lobster Rolls. Boston Cream Pie. Boston Baked Beans.

New England Clam Chowder… served in a giant bread bowl, of course.

Here is my attempt to lighten the last in this list.

NameNew England Clam & Corn Chowder
Prep Time20 minutes
Cooking Time35 minutes
Total Time55 minutes
Servings6 servings
Yield6 cups

Before I write anything else, let me write this: Please, PLEASE start with fresh clams if you are making chowder from scratch! We are lucky enough to have a plethora of seafood markets full of fresh offerings from the Atlantic here in Boston, but Whole Foods also sells fresh clams at a reasonable rate.

All you need to do is scrub ‘em to clean off any lingering grit, and steam ‘em until they open up to reveal their juicy, sweet, briny, and tender meat.

Ok, now that we’re on track with fresh clams, let’s get to the remaining ingredients.

Instead of heavy cream and whole milk, we’re using 1% milk and pureed corn for this chowder. Yep, pureed corn. Corn does not traditionally make an appearance in New England Clam Chowder, but it is vital to this lightened version of the classic soup; thus my addition of corn in the recipe title.

With the added benefit of a touch of sweetness, the pureed corn thickens the soup right up, whereas you’d be left with a sadly thin soup if you were to use only low fat milk.

Two other necessary ingredients are bacon and potatoes; preferably thickly cut applewood smoked and baby yukon gold, respectively.

It’s not mandatory, but oyster cracker are the perfect accompaniment to a steaming bowl of “chowda” (the classic Bostonian pronunciation).

I also like the aesthetic appeal of a few clam shells adorning the soup, but again, it’s not absolutely necessary.

Now that it actually feels like a New England winter, it’s time to load up on warm & comforting soup. With this recipe, you can do just that without consuming loads of calories and fat!

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • 4 dozen little neck or cherry stone clams, scrubbed
  • 4 thick slices applewood smoked bacon, cut into lardons (stack the bacon strips, cut width-wise into little rectangular pieces)
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, finely diced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups 1/2-inch diced baby yukon gold potatoes
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 2 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 2 cups cups 1% low fat milk, preferably organic, divided
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • hot sauce for serving, optional
  • oyster crackers for serving, optional
  • thickly cut hearty whole wheat bread for serving, optional

Estimated Nutrition Per Serving:

  • Calories: 350 kcal
  • Total Fat: 20g
  • Saturated Fat: 10g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 85mg
  • Sodium: 700mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 30g
  • Dietary Fiber: 4g
  • Sugars: 4g
  • Protein: 14g
  • Vitamin D: 10%
  • Calcium: 15%
  • Iron: 10%
  • Potassium: 600mg

Please note that these nutritional values are approximate and can vary based on the specific ingredients and brands used.


Place clams and 1 cup of water in a large saucepan set over high heat. Cover and cook for 6 minutes. Remove clams that have opened with a slotted spoon; reserve in a bowl. Cover saucepan and cook remaining clams until they have opened, about 2 minutes. Discard any unopened clams. Reserve liquid in saucepan.

Set a fine mesh sieve over a medium bowl. Pour the liquid from the saucepan through the sieve and reserve the collected clam juice. Discard any debris left in sieve. Wipe out the saucepan.

Remove the clam meat from their shells and coarsely chop. Keep shells for presentation or discard. Reserve chopped clams.

Set the wiped-out saucepan over medium heat and add in the bacon lardons. Cook until brown and crispy, then add in the diced onion. Season lightly with salt, and cook until soft and translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add in the chopped potatoes and cook, stirring often, for an additional 5 minutes.

While the potatoes cook, place the thawed corn plus 1/2 cup milk in a food processor or high-speed blender and puree until relatively smooth, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula as necessary.

Sprinkle flour over the onions and potatoes and stir for 30 seconds. Gradually stir in the reserved clam juice until no flour lumps remain. This will also serve to de-glaze the pan.

Stir in the pureed corn and remaining 1 1/2 cups milk, and toss in the bay leaves and thyme. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are cooked through and the soup has thickened, about 10-15 minutes, stirring often.

Remove the bay leaves and thyme. Stir in the reserved chopped clams. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Nutritional Information Per Serving (without oyster crackers & bread):332.4 calories, 5.4 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 4.6 grams fiber, 24.2 grams protein

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