Recipe courtesy of Wolfgang Puck

Clam Chowder

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Yield: about 6 servings
  • Total: 4 hr 40 min
  • Prep: 40 min
  • Inactive: 2 hr 30 min
  • Cook: 1 hr 30 min


3 sprigs fresh thyme, plus 1 more sprig

3 sprigs fresh parsley

2 garlic cloves

15 to 20 whole black peppercorns

2 cups white wine

1 cup water

1 1/2 pounds littleneck clams, cleaned

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed

2 ounces smoked bacon, chopped

1 small onion or 1/2 large onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 inner stalks celery, diced

1 small carrot, diced

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 russet potato, peeled and diced

1 cup milk

1 lemon, juiced

Pinch cayenne

1/3 cup heavy cream

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Croutons, recipe follows, for garnish

Fresh thyme sprigs, for garnish, optional


1 loaf sourdough bread, crusts removed, cubed

Garlic and Chili Oil, recipe follows

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Chili and Garlic Oil:

1 whole head garlic (about 2 1/2 ounces, cloves separated and peeled)

2 cups extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes


Special equipment:
Cheesecloth, kitchen twine
  1. Make a bouquet garni by placing the 3 sprigs thyme, parsley, garlic cloves, and peppercorns in cheesecloth and tying with kitchen twine. Add wine, water, and bouquet garni to a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the clams, cover with a lid, and cook until clams open. Strain the clams into a bowl, reserving both the juice and clams.
  2. Return the pan to the heat, add olive oil, and heat over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook until crispy. Add onion and cook for 1 minute. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add celery and carrot and cook until tender. Sprinkle flour into pan, stir to make a roux, and cook until flour is incorporated; do not let roux brown. Add more oil if mixture seems dry.
  3. Add 1 more fresh thyme sprig, and return the strained clam cooking liquid to the pan and bring to a simmer for 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add potato, milk, lemon juice, and cayenne and simmer until potato is tender. Meanwhile, remove clams from their shells and roughly chop clams. When potato is tender, add clams back into the pan, add cream, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir to combine, and as soon as clams are heated through, remove from the heat.
  4. Ladle soup into serving bowls. Garnish each with croutons and a sprig of fresh thyme. Serve immediately.


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place bread cubes in a large bowl. Drizzle with garlic and chili oil and sprinkle with parsley. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and toss well. Pour onto a sheet pan in 1 even layer and bake until crispy and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Serve on top of chowder.

Chili and Garlic Oil:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the garlic cloves and olive oil and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer until the garlic begins to turn brown, 10 to 15 minutes. (Do not let the garlic get too brown or the oil will have a bitter taste.)
  2. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Add the red pepper flakes and infuse for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to blend. Refrigerate in a covered container for up to 2 weeks.
Let's Get Cooking!

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8 Reviews


I've been making this recipe for about three years, and I make it every Christmas. Everyone loves it for it's unique flavors and they go back for seconds - I always wish I had made more of it! This is not a "beginners" recipe, but it's worth the time and effort. If fresh clams are not available, I use canned, and if you have to use canned, go with chopped, not minced. I do modify the recipe slightly; I use 2 potatoes rather than just 1, and I add a little flour to thicken it slightly, which gives it a more traditional texture. But the wine, herbs, and lemon juice really make this chowder special. And those sourdough croutons with the hot oil are fabulous!

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