This Easy Clam Chowder is a rich, creamy, flavorful soup – and it’s healthy, too! With creamy golden potatoes, turkey bacon, clams, and half-and-half, it’s the perfect cozy meal.
A Healthy and Easy Clam Chowder Recipe
Clam chowder is a very simple recipe. It’s easy to make, and takes no time to pull together, especially if you use canned clams like I do. However, clam chowder may not always be the healthiest dish – it can be very high in calories, sodium, and fat. This recipe changes all of that, without sacrificing any of the flavor.
I came up with this after a trip to Mexico. We were enjoying a meal there, and part of the menu was clam chowder in bread bowls. Everyone loved it, and I told myself I would try to develop a healthy, homemade version when I got home. This is that labor of love, and I hope you love it, too!
What Are the Two Types of Clam Chowder?
You may have heard of Manhattan clam chowder, as well as New England clam chowder – these are the “big two” in the clam chowder world, although there can also be other spinoffs. The main difference is that New England clam chowder is creamy and thick, while Manhattan clam chowder is made with a clear, broth-y base. Both are delicious. This recipe is a traditional New England-type chowder.
What Is Clam Chowder Soup Made Of?
So what will you need to make this recipe? Just a few wholesome, ordinary ingredients – and some canned clams, of course. Let’s take a look at the list:
- Coconut Oil: I use extra virgin coconut oil, but keep in mind that it does have a coconut taste to it. Refined coconut oil will be more neutral in flavor. You could also use a little butter, if you prefer.
- Bacon: Diced turkey bacon gives the chowder that classic smoky taste, without the calories and fat of regular bacon.
- Aromatics: For a savory aroma and flavor, you’ll need celery, onion, and garlic.
- Potatoes: I like to use Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed.
- Clam Juice: You can usually find clam juice on the same aisle as canned tuna and other canned fish products.
- Chicken Base: Chicken base is like bouillon, but in a paste. You can also use bouillon, instead.
- Italian Seasoning: This versatile seasoning is so useful! If you don’t have it on hand, a mixture of basil, oregano, and rosemary is a good substitute.
- Half-and-Half: Using half-and-half instead of cream makes a lighter chowder that’s still rich and creamy.
- Clams: Canned minced clams, drained.
How to Make This Easy Clam Chowder
To make my easy clam chowder recipe, you just need a big pot, your ingredients, and a smidgen of time. We’ll build some layers of flavor by sauteing the bacon and aromatics, and then quickly simmer the chowder until done.
- Cook the Bacon. Set a large pot over medium heat, and add the coconut oil. When the oil has melted, add the turkey bacon to the pot, and stir them around a bit as they brown.
- Add the Aromatics. Next, add the onion and celery to the pot, and cook those for five or six minutes, or until the onion starts to turn translucent. Then add the garlic and let it cook for just a minute or two.
- Add Everything But Clams and Half-and-Half. Now you’ll add your potatoes, water, clam juice, chicken base, and Italian seasoning. Bring the chowder to a boil and stir. Turn the heat down, and simmer the chowder uncovered for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and can be easily pierced with a fork.
- Finish the Dish. Finally, add the clams and half-and-half, and let the chowder heat through over low heat. Enjoy!
Helpful Tips and Tricks
That’s the way to make this easy clam chowder, and it’s so easy! But I also have some recipe tips to share that will make this delicious soup even easier. Enjoy!
- Cook Gently: This recipe performs well with gentle cooking – a low boil, a gentle simmer, and definitely don’t boil the half-and-half! Cooking gently will help ensure a nice, creamy texture with tender potatoes and no weird graininess.
- Fresh Clams: If you have access to some good fresh clams, feel free to use those, too! Steam them just until done, and add both the clam meat and the strained juices to your chowder. Yum.
- Add Lemon: If you want a little brightness and contrast, try serving the bowls with lemon wedges.
- Add Spice: For a little heat, try adding cayenne or Cajun seasoning to the chowder.
- Old Bay: This beloved seafood seasoning is great in clam chowder, too.
Tasty Serving Suggestions
I like to serve a big bowl of this chowder as a meal with some crusty bread, and maybe a salad. You could also add a side dish or two, like one of these:
- Roasted Beet Salad: The earthy flavor of beets is brought to life in this flavorful Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese. Super healthy and bold!
- Crostini: I love any kind of crostini, but the sweet, fennel-y taste of Italian Sausage Crostini is especially good with cream and seafood.
- Succotash: Mmm, succotash. My Spicy Corn Succotash is made with coconut milk and poblanos, and it’s seriously good – a delightful side to enjoy with clam chowder!
Storing and Reheating
Leftovers from this easy clam chowder recipe will keep in your fridge for one or two days. Be sure to tightly cover the chowder, or pack it into food storage containers (a mason jar is great for this). Reheat on the stove over medium-low heat.
Does This Easy Clam Chowder Recipe Freeze Well?
Yes, you can. The problem is that frozen creamy soups like this one can sometimes have a grainy texture if they’re frozen and thawed. Still, if you want to freeze your leftovers, just cool the chowder down and place in freezer containers or bags. Mark with the date, and freeze for up to 3 months.
Easy Clam Chowder
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil
- 3 strips turkey bacon diced
- 2 celery ribs trimmed and chopped
- 1 large yellow onion peeled and chopped
- 1 large garlic clove peeled and minced
- 8 small yellow yukon gold potatoes peeled and cubed
- 1 cup water
- 1 bottle clam juice 8 ounces
- 3 teaspoons reduced sodium chicken base like bouillon, but in a paste. You can use bouillon if you prefer.
- 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 2 cups half and half
- 2 cans minced clams drained, 6 1/2 ounces each
- In a large pot over medium heat add coconut oil. When melted add turkey bacon and stir till starts to brown.
- Add onion, celery and cook for 5-6 minutes until onion starts to turn translucent.
- Add garlic, give a quick stir for 1-2 minutes.
- Add potatoes, water, clam juice, chicken base, and italian seasoning. Bring to a boil and stir.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and leave uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender and can be easily pierced with a fork.
- Add clams, half and half and heat through over low heat.