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Rhode Island Clam Chowder


Unlike cream- or tomato-based chowders, the Rhode Island version has a clear broth to showcase the briny best in the clams.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 6

Photography: Katherine Wolkoff

Source: Martha Stewart Living, June 2012


  • 3 pounds large clams in the shell, preferably chowder or quahog, scrubbed
  • 3 slices bacon, for serving
  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (1 medium onion)
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced leek, white and pale-green parts only, rinsed well (about 1 leek)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, preferably fingerlings, cut into chunks
  • Coarse salt (optional)
  • Fresh basil leaves, torn (from a few sprigs), for serving


  1. Bring 8 cups water to a boil in a large pot. Add clams, cover, and cook just until they open, about 5 minutes (start checking after 4 minutes and discard any chowder clams that have not opened after 6 minutes and quahogs after 7 minutes). Remove clams, and pour broth through a fine sieve into a bowl; reserve 5 cups. Remove clams from shells; roughly chop clams.

  2. Cook bacon in a medium pot over medium-high heat until crisp. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Add bacon fat or oil to fat in pot, and reduce heat to medium. Add onion and leek, and saute until softened, about 8 minutes.

  3. Add wine, and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits. Add potatoes and reserved clam broth. Bring to a simmer, and cook until potatoes are tender. Stir in clams, and season with salt. Serve immediately with crumbled bacon and basil.

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