New England Clam Chowder in the Slow Cooker

I feel very lucky that we live pretty close to the coast. 

If we hopped in the car, we'd see the ocean within 15 minutes --- that's pretty cool.

I'm kind of embarrassed that we don't take advantage of this as often as we should. 

My kids love the beach. Adam loves the beach. I love the beach. 

Yet most of our weekends are filled with boring stuff like Costco runs, random sporting events, assorted kid birthday parties, and Drop Dead Diva marathons on Netflix (oh Drop Dead Diva, how did I only just now discover how completely awesome you are?).

So I brought the beach to us. 

No mess, no sandy feet, and no bird poop.
(and it totally rained this entire weekend anyway.)

The Ingredients.
serves 6

there's no half-and-half in this picture. I didn't buy it yet!

1/2 pound bacon, cooked and diced
1 (6.5-ounce) can minced clams, drained
5 small red potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 cup sliced celery
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups half-and-half (or you could use heavy cream)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (to add later)

optional: bread bowls for serving. 

If you're gluten free, I've made them myself by using boxed bread mix, then plopping 4 round dough blobs on a piece of parchment paper--they bake right up, and are perfect!

The Directions.

Use a 4-quart slow cooker. 

Brown the bacon on the stovetop, and drain the accumulated grease (I saved bacon from breakfast-- about 6 4 slices (I accidentally ate a few...)

Put the bacon into your crockpot, and add clams. 

Add all the vegetables and spices and pour in the broth. 

Cover, and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or until the onion is translucent and the potatoes squish easily with a fork.

Use a hand-held stick blender and pulse a few times to naturally thicken the soup. 

Stir in half and half and shredded cheese.

 Ladle into wide-mouthed bowls or bread bowls.

The Verdict.

This is an awesome chowder. 

The canned clams really do a great job of flavoring the broth and the soup, and are terribly inexpensive, and will keep in the pantry for a long time. 

They're a great canned item to keep on hand.

 My kids lapped up their servings and played with their new art supplies

While I cried. Because of Drop Dead Diva.

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Posted by: Stephanie O'Dea | A Year of Slow Cooking at March 20, 2012

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What they say about this article

  1. a reader3/20/2012

    LOVE Drop Dead Diva! I too discovered on Netflix :)

  2. I love Drop Dead Diva! And I even got my husband watching it with me last season. What?! Do you have any idea how many football and basketball games I have sat through?

  3. I can't wait to try this! Thanks for the recipe. I may use more potatoes because I like a thicker chowda :)

  4. Ohhh how I love chowdah! :) This'll have to go on my list.

  5. Anonymous3/20/2012

    can't believe that THIS is what finally got me commenting on here, but i LOVE DROP DEAD DIVA!!! i can't wait for season 4 to get filmed already! love netflix, love DDD, love your blog :)

  6. Lol - I think you may have tapped into the hidden fan base for Drop Dead Diva on Netflix. I found it on there too and stayed up til 2am the other night so I could finish season one. I have cried at some episodes too :) I blame it on just having delivered a baby and sleep deprivation.
    I love clam chowder too. Basically this is my favorite post you've ever written (and I've been following you for over a year :)

  7. THIS IS REALLY, REALLY GOOD! It is mid-March and feels like summer with 85 degree weather and this recipe came to my email. I decided to make it because I had an over-abundance of potatoes. It was GOBBLED down so fast by even my pickiest eater.

    Make this! It is so goood!


  8. what I wouldn't give to live 15 minutes from the ocean!!!!

  9. jaimee3/25/2012

    Hmmm, maybe I did something wrong. My chowder was too runny and the thyme was way too overpowering. I might try it again, but would not use thyme.

  10. i have to say this is very amazing .

  11. I made this last weekend. It was good, but seemed more like a "baked potato soup" than new England clam chowder. Disclaimer, I live in rhode island where we have the best chowder, so my standards are quite high. It was still quite good though.

  12. Oh, I live in RI too! Sorry, I was excited to see that. Yes, our standards are high here, and typically we eat alot of manhattan or clear chowder also (which I think always taste "clamier". This was good tho, better the second day. But I give it high points for how easy it was!

  13. Oh wow, this is good. I just made it last night and enjoyed a bowl for breakfast. (My boyfriend is raving about it right now too!)

    Just a few notes:

    1.) I left out the salt completely and added half of the clam juice instead of draining the clams. It was a gamble, but I wanted a more intense clam flavor.

    2.) 1/2 lb of bacon is a lot of bacon! I used turkey bacon, and I don't think it overpowered the clam flavor of the soup at all. You could still taste the clams, and the bacon was just a nice addition. Not that there's anything wrong with bacon soup... Mmm...

    3.) I used Russet potatoes because those 5-lb bags are near impossible to get through.

    4.) I used 1 cup of half-n-half + 1 cup lowfat milk to save on some calories. The substitution ends up saving you only about 35 calories per serving and maybe isn't worth worrying about.

    I will DEFINITELY be making this again! Next time I might use an entire can's worth of clam juice and add another drained can of clams.

  14. Mine was runny as well. Any advice?

  15. @frugal student, are you blending some of the potatoes with a hand-held stick blender? I prefer to do that to naturally thicken the broth, but you can also stir in a cornstarch slurry if you want it to have a thicker texture and aren't wanting to blend a bit.
    1T cornstarch mixed with 2T cold water--blend to make a paste, then whisk in.

    I hope this helps a bit!

  16. I have always added the clams at the end of the cooking process. They tend to get tough and rubbery if cooked too long. Any comments?