Clam chowder

The cornerstone of Christmas Eve dinner at our house for more than 40 years, my creamy clam chowder has survived many experiments and diet plans. Whether you go for the high octane version with sourdough bread bowl, or the Keto option, this cozy delight gets us all ready for a cold ride to church. Sometimes we save the strawberry shortcake for after, sometimes not.

Keys to greatness: The bacon base, the herbal accents, and just the right thickening for that great–not too thin and not too thick–texture that everybody likes.

Keto Option: Our clam chowder is a great Keto deal from the get-go since we use bacon and heavy whipping cream and add butter for even more richness and fat. But since potatoes and wheat flour are Keto no-no’s, another solution had to be found to thicken the chowder.

To make about 2 quarts (8 cups).

You’ll need:

  • 4 quart pot or larger (Dutch oven, pasta pot, etc.)
  • 4 cans of clams
  • 4 bottles of clam juice (about 4 cups)
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • salt and pepper

Do This:

  1. Dice bacon strips into 1/4″ bits. Fry up the bits in the pot over medium heat. (It’s OK to start from a cold pot.) Once they start sizzling, fry for about 5-7 minutes or until they have rendered most of their fat and look browned and cooked through. If your bacon was especially fatty, you might want to spoon off some of the fat until you have about 2 tablespoons or so left.
  2. Dice onion and celery into 1/4″ bits. Add to bacon. Cook for 5 minutes but don’t let the onions get too dark brown.
  3. Add flour and stir or whisk it in thoroughly. Let it cook for a minute or two, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add juice from all four cans of clams and water for a total of 6 cups. Stir to combine.
  5. Peel (or not) and dice potatoes (1/2″ pieces). Add to pot with thyme and bay leaf. Stir, bring to a simmer, cover pot, and cook for 10-12 minutes until potatoes are done.
  6. Add cream, clams, parsley, and pepper. Add salt and pepper if needed.


Sometimes I melt in a couple tablespoons of butter just before serving for extra richness. This is really a nice touch, but not necessary. The chowder is ready to eat right away, but tastes just as good later or the next day. We usually make this right before sitting down to Christmas Eve dinner. The kids used to enjoy their clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls. This is fantastic, but really filling. Enjoy!

Keto Option

My default thickener for Keto soups is unflavored gelatin or better yet, Konjac Flour. If you are Keto and not yet using Konjac flour, head over to Amazon and get you some. Just remember to use very sparingly or your soup or stew will turn from creamy to gelatinous before you know it. If you go this route, omit flour and potato. Amp up the clam juice.

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