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Rhode Island Clam Chowder

by Mary Sacks

Rhode Island Clam Chowder

This is the true seafood lover’s clam chowder—it contains neither dairy nor tomatoes. Rhode Island Clam Chowder is thinner than the creamy white so the clam flavor is not masked by the roux and cream.


  • 2 oz. thin-sliced bacon (2 to 3 slices), cut crosswise into ¼ inch strips
  • 1½ oz. unsalted butter (3 Tbsp.)
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into small dice (about 2 cups)
  • 4 tender inner celery stalks, sliced ⅛ inch thick (about 1 cup)
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped garlic (2 cloves)
  • 6 cups prepared clam broth (a mixture of juice from clams and RC Clam Broth Concentrate
  • 2 cups chopped, canned ocean clams
  • 1½ lb. large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into ⅓ inch dice (about 4 cups)
  • 2½ tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


  • Put the bacon in a wide soup pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to turn crisp and golden about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. Pour off and discard the bacon fat, leaving the bacon in the pot.
  • Add the butter and onion and cook over low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until the onion is sweet and tender, not browned about 10 minutes. Add the celery and garlic and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until all the vegetables are tender, 5 to 7 minutes more.
  • Add the clam broth, potatoes, thyme, bay leaves, and ¼ tsp. pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender about 15 minutes.
  • Remove the soup from the heat, wait until it stops simmering, and stir in the clams and chopped parsley. Season to taste with black pepper, if desired.

Food for Thought

  • Potatoes. Yukon Gold fall under the low starch category for potatoes; therefore, they don’t have the starch necessary for those of us that prefer a little thicker soup. If you want something thicker, you might want to change the potato or consider RC Gluten-Free Instant Food Thickener. This is my choice because now you can control the thickness.
  • Yukon Gold is the classic for this recipes, but I also swear by Yukon Gold potatoes for making the best mashed potatoes due to their lower starch content and because they require very little in the way of butter or cream to create a fluffy yet milky consistency.
  • Having used both Yukon Gold and Russets for mashing before, I agree that Yukon Golds are much more foolproof—but they're also more expensive by the pound.
  • Choice of clams. Ocean and chopped—remember, we are making soup. Remember, you are using clams (in whatever form). They might be gritty. Rinse and fine strain.
  • Thyme. This is the seasoning of choice. Be careful, it can be strong. Dried thyme will work just fine.
  • Change. I like this classic just the way it is, but tossing corn in it works quite well. No peppers unless you are intent on changing the flavor.


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Mary Sacks
Mary Sacks


Retired Certified Executive Chef and Educator

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