No-Cream New England Clam Chowder

This lighter chowder is still plenty rich, thanks to a luscious milk broth.
Publish date:
new england clam chowder

Recipe by Marge Perry and David Bonom

  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 4Servings


  • 3 cans (6.5 oz. each) minced clams
  • 4 thick slices center-cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 russet potato (12 oz.), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 cups bottled clam juice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 20 oyster crackers, for garnish


1. Drain the clams, reserving 2/3 cup clam juice (discard the remaining juice). 

2. Heat a Dutch oven over medium. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 7 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate. Pour off all but 1 tbsp. of the drippings and return the pot to medium heat. Add the onion, celery, garlic and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. 

3. Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the reserved canned clam juice, potato cubes, bottled clam juice and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are tender, 8 to 9 minutes. 

4. In a medium bowl, whisk the milk and flour until smooth. Add to the pot and cook, stirring constantly, until chowder thickens, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the minced clams; cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Season with pepper. Divide the chowder among bowls and top with the bacon and oyster crackers.

Look Ma, No Cream! Many seafood shacks thicken their chowders with heavy cream or a roux made of flour, butter and milk, both of which add buckets of calories and fat. You can make an equally rich, delicious soup by whisking milk with a bit of flour. That simple swap helps you simmer up a chowder with 25 percent fewer calories and nearly 75 percent less fat!

Bring Home the Bacon: Use leaner center-cut bacon to get all the smoky, rich flavor with less fat.