Clam Chowder Lovliness

I have loved Clam Chowder my entire life.  Whenever we would go to restaurants as a kid I would always get the Clam Chowder if it was on the menu.  It's just yummy I think.  I especially love it when we travel somewhere where there is a lot of fresh seafood around and the Clam Chowder is just perfect.  Ivar's in Seattle, the Lexington Mass. Great Harvest has the most amazing Clam Chowder, and I even love getting a San Francisco Sourdough bread bowl in the airport in San Fran filled with hot steamy clam chowder!  It is soooo good!

I remember the night of my first prom because of the Clam Chowder I had that night.  I was with Clark (my high school boyfriend), I had a beautiful dress, he was handsome, and we rode to the big city in a Limo.  Dinner was at a restaurant called Maxi's in the Red Lion Hotel.  I don't believe it's there anymore, but my memories will never die.  The soup that night was a Manhattan Clam Chowder.  I had never had a tomato based Clam Chowder, but that soup has never been duplicated.  I remember making numerous yummy sounds and wanting to lick the bowl.  It was just a delicious soup.  So wonderful.

A short while after Jimmy and I got married I wanted to test some culinary skills and make Clam Chowder for him.  I didn't have a real recipe.  I just didn't think it could be that hard.  I had been the official gravy stir-er my entire life, and I thought all you had to do to thicken a soup or gravy was add flour.  So a very poor rendition of Clam Chowder was started.  I had all the veggies, and clams and milk and plenty of flour to make it a thick soup.  I must have added cup after cup of flour.  Nothing seemed to happen, until all of a sudden my soup turned to paste.  A thick concrete consistency.  Needless to say I cried, we dumped the pot and headed to Jake's Over the Top for fries and shakes that night.

I try different recipes all the time.  I'm still looking for that perfect balance of clammy-ness, bacony-ness, and creaminess.  I've come close a few times, but I haven't found just the recipe yet.  So here's my plea:  If you have a great Clam Chowder recipe, send it to me!  I'm desperate!  The recipe I made this weekend was pretty good.  I wanted a little more clammy-ness, but I will tell you it got better the next day.  As my mother would say, "the flavors enhanced over time." and yes they did.   The original recipe is from the Market Street Broiler in SLC.  I changed just a few things, but for the most part followed the recipe pretty spot on.  Give it a try.  I know I am one who will try any Clam Chowder recipe in search of that perfect soup.

1 cup potatoes, diced ½ inch (I used about 3 c. potatoes)
1 cup celery, diced ½ inch
1 cup onion, diced ½ inch
1 cup green pepper, diced ½ inch
1 cup leeks, diced ½ inch
¾ cup chopped clams (I used 4 cans chopped clams)
¾ tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
1 ½ tablespoon salt
¾ tablespoon whole thyme
6 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Tabasco
¾ cup sherry wine (optional- you can also just add broth or more water, or at the end of cooking add 2 T. vinegar.  This works great!)
2 cups water (I used 3-4 since I had way more potatoes)
¾ cup clam juice (drained from canned clams or purchased separately in can)
¾ cup butter, melted (I used 1/2 c.)
1 cup flour
2 quarts half-and-half (I used 3 c. milk and 2 c. half and half and 1 c. cream)

Combine melted butter and flour in oven-proof container and bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.  I actually placed 1/2 c. butter the flour and 1 c. of milk in a saucepan and made a Roux.  Just cook the 3 ingredients together until the flour thickens and cooks through.  It is a serious paste, but it mixes into the soup perfectly.  Stir constantly to eliminate clumps.   In large saucepan, combine remaining ingredients except half-and-half. Simmer until potatoes are thoroughly cooked. Stir butter-flour mixture into chowder and stir until thick. Mixture will be slightly less thick than cookie dough. Remove chowder from heat. Stir in half-and-half until blended. Heat to serving temperature, stirring occasionally.

Serve immediately.


  1. My husband proposed to me at Maxi's in the Red Lion hotel in SLC. Maxi's is gone and I don't think it's a Red Lion anymore either. My hubby loved the steak diane there.

  2. The best clam chowder I ever had was made by none other that your Aunt Shanna. Check with her for a great recipe.

    Laura B.

  3. I don't have a recipe but you HAVE to come to Oregon and go to my favorite restaurant. Me and my mom fell in love with The Chowder Bowl this summer. They serve a 'cannon ball' that is sour dough bread bowl with the most yummy, creamy, buttery chowder I have ever tried. It is in Newport so of course it is fresh seafood. If you ever want a retreat....please let me be your guide :) I lood for any excuse to go get a good bowl of chowder!



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