Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

A classic recipe that will warm your tummy on a frigid day — New England Clam Chowder. It even makes a good breakfast!


The cold weather put me in the mood this weekend for clam chowder. Somewhere I have a tried and true recipe. Somewhere. I found a recipe with potential on the Eating Well magazine site so I gave it a try. It’s a winner that probably has a lower fat content than my old recipe.

Eating Well is my favorite healthy eating magazine. I used to also subscribe to Cooking Light, but their recipes rely on processed food much too often;  that’s not the way I usually cook. Eating Well publishes interesting articles about ingredients and nutrition and has a slant toward local, seasonal and sustainable food.

New England Clam Chowder | Grabbing the Gusto

New England Clam Chowder | Grabbing the Gusto

New England Clam Chowder

  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1-3 medium red potatoes
  • 1 8-oz bottle clam juice — My store didn’t have any so I used 1-1/2 cups of boxed seafood stock. The increased amount is due to extra potatoes and a very large onion.
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cups low-fat milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream or  half & half
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 3 6-oz cans chopped clams and their juice
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat and add bacon. Cook until crispy. Add onion, celery and thyme to the pan, stirring, until beginning to soften. Add garlic, sauté a minute. Add potato, clam juice (seafood stock) and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the vegetables are just tender.

Whisk milk, cream, flour and salt in a medium bowl. I add the flour little by little to prevent lumps. Or you could add some milk to the flour to make a slurry and then add the rest. Add to the pan and return to a simmer, stirring. Cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add clams (and juice) and cook, stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes more (or longer).

Discard the bay leaf before serving. Top each bowl with some sliced scallions.

Original Recipe: New England Clam Chowder

I served the chowder with sweet potato fries. I love roasting sweet potatoes but they always end up softer than I’d like, even at high heat. I found a recipe on Annie’s Eats that called for soaking the cut potatoes in cold water before roasting to increase their crispiness, and, by god, it works. They’re still not as crispy as fried sweet potatoes, but I’m trying to be a bit healthy here. I added cayenne to the recipe for some heat. Experiment with your herbs or spices.

Roasted Sweet Potato Fries

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 crushed garlic cloves (crush them on sheet pan)
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cayenne or smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil greased lightly with cooking spray.

Halve potatoes lengthwise and cut into long fry shapes, not too thin. Soak fries in cold water for 20-30 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Toss fries on sheet pan with the oil. Spread them out in a single layer. Combine brown sugar, cayenne, salt and pepper, and sprinkle on the fries.

Bake for 15 minutes, then turn with spatula or tongs. Bake another 5-10 minutes until lightly browned. Sprinkle with salt if desired and serve.

I’ve found a lot of great recipes on Annie’s Eats. It’s definitely RSS subscription worthy. She recently published a recipe that looks absolutely crazy good, Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites.

Recipe: Roasted Sweet Potato Fries

7 thoughts on “Clam Chowder with Sweet Potato Fries

  1. I am so impressed! I so wish I liked to cook, but I just don’t. I just watched Food, Inc. (twice!) and I need to start paying more attention to this stuff.

    1. deirdrereid says:

      I go through phases with cooking. Sometimes I just don’t have the motivation. But usually once I start chopping an onion, I’m good to go.

      I haven’t seen Food Inc. yet, I’m very bad at seeing movies lately, like the last several years lately. I’ve read a lot about food so have a good understanding of where it comes from (which is why I like farmers markets) so I’m sure I’ll enjoy the movie’s message. Not that it will stop me from having an occasional Bojangles egg, country ham and cheese biscuit.

  2. Julie says:

    Oh, Deirdre…..awesomeness!! I am SO all over this! Everything I cook is just for me (hubby is a salads-only health nut and kids live on mac and cheese), but this will be so worth it!! Thanks!

    1. deirdrereid says:

      Chowder is great for solo dining. You can keep enough in the frig for a day or two and freeze the rest so you don’t get sick of it. Thanks for stopping by, Julie!

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