Quick Holiday Meals – New England Clam Chowder

At this time of the year almost everything is about the family holiday rituals and traditional foods but don’t forget that every night can’t be Thanksgiving but it’s still getting colder outside so you can still create a festive feel without going all out. We’ve got a recipe for something that you can prepare in 25 minutes, it will look and taste like it took you 2 hours and even heat it up again the next day and have it taste as good or better. Perfect for quick meals after shopping or for putting together something light for when friends drop in for a glass of wine. This is a great recipe for New England Clam Chowder that will make an East Coast fisherman proud.

It has always been one of my favorite dishes, not just soups but I was always intimidated to make it because I have had it at some of the best restaurants in San Francisco and Boston and thought I had been to the mountain top and any attempt by me would be a massive disappointment but I tried this and it worked. Now it will take me a while to learn how to make a ‘bread bowl’ to serve it in like they do in San Francisco but this will do just fine in the meantime.

Ok, no doubt it’s a bit heavy so you may want to just serve it with a good bottle of white and some quality sourdough bread, but if you must use it as a starter, don’t have a big portion of meat or fowl following it up our your guest/family will pass out within 15 minutes of finishing the meal.

clam chowder with wine

New England Clam Chowdercooking time 20 minutes – serves 4 to 6

5 lbs. Little neck or other small clams, scrubbed                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   1 pound new potatoes, cut into 1-inch dice                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             3 cups heavy cream                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 cups whole milk                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Salt and freshly ground black pepper                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       3 tablespoons olive oil                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                6 shallots, thinly sliced  (try to find a painters mask as the tears will fall!)                                                                                                                                                                                                    Juice of 1 lemon                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           2 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (cilantro also works well)                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh dill


  1. Pick through the clams and discard any with cracked shells as they may not be healthy. In a large, lidded pot, heat clams and 1 ½ cups water over high heat. Once water comes to a simmer, cover with lid and steam until clams just pop open (about 4 minutes). Remove pan from heat. Shuck clams and discard shells. Discard any clams that don’t open. Set clam meat aside.
  2. Discard any drippings and wipe the pot clean. Add potatoes, cream, milk and a pinch of salt, then bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are fork-tender (about 10 minutes). Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly caramelized (about 7 minutes).
  3. Stir shallots into potato cream mixture and simmer until flavors meld (2 minutes). Add reserved clams. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste, and simmer until clams are just warmed through (only about a minute).
  4. Remove soup from heat and stir in parsley and dill. Best to serve immediately.



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