New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder
Top this New England Clam Chowder with chopped fried bacon bits and minced chives or parsley.

Have you ever wondered the difference between a New England Clam Chowder recipe and a San Francisco Clam Chowder recipe?

Both are delicious cream-based soups (as opposed to the tomato-based Manhattan chowder), and are chock-full of tender clams, bacon and potatoes. One of the main differences I’ve found is that in San Francisco, the clam chowder is served in a hollowed out sourdough bread bowl, preferably from the historic Boudin Bakery.

New England Clam Chowder in Sourdough Bread Bowl Recipe
This New England Clam Chowder recipe can be served in a sourdough bread bowl to make in San Francisco style.

While visiting San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, we had fun sampling the different chowders served some along Fish Alley. It’s interesting to see how the consistency varied from each stand, some were more watery, and some much thicker. I personally prefer a thicker clam chowder.

This New England Clam Chowder is so easy to make at home. Feel free to add more roux until you get your desired consistency.

If you enjoy this recipe, you also might enjoy my creamy loaded potato soup or Southwestern Corn Chowder!

New England Clam Chowder in Sourdough Bread Bowl Recipe

New England Clam Chowder Recipe

Recipe by Jason Hill –
New England Clam Chowder and San Francisco Clam Chowders are practically identical — except for the fact the California version is usually served in a hollowed out sourdough bread bowl.
This recipe is inspired by one of my favorite cities here in California — San Francisco. After sampling the piping hot chowders along Fish Alley on Fisherman's Wharf, I just had to make some myself at home. For the ultimate California touch, serve this inside a Boudin sourdough bread bowl.
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Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 6


  • 1 large white onion diced
  • 2 celery stalks diced
  • 1 pound red potatoes skin on, cubed
  • 5 slices semi-frozen bacon, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 6.5 oz. cans of clams
  • 2 cups chicken broth may substitute water or clam juice
  • 3 cups half and half or heavy cream

Roux (Thickener)

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 stick butter


  • Dice onions, celery and potatoes. Place potatoes in cold water and set aside.
  • Over medium-high heat in a large stockpot, cook diced bacon until browned. Add celery and onion and cook until onions are translucent, scraping pan to get bits of flavor.
  • Strain potatoes and add to onions and celery. Strain clams into 2 cups of broth or clam juice, and add to pot along with the bay leaf. Reserve clams to use in a moment.
  • Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
  • Add 2 cups half/half to pot, along with the reserved clams.
  • Make a roux in a separate pan by heating 1/2 stick of butter until melted. Stir in flour and whisk for about 2 minutes until thickened. Stir in 1 cup half/half and keep stirring until thick and smooth.
  • Use roux to thicken your chowder, stirring in about 1/4 cup at a time, until it reaches your desired creaminess.
  • Serving variations: Enjoy with a fresh thyme sprig and slice of sourdough garlic toast OR place it in a sourdough bread bowl and top with minced chives and cooked bacon bits.
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Keyword chowder, clam chowder, clams, comfort food, seafood, shellfish, Soup recipes, soups
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