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5 from 3 votes

Rhode Island Clam Chowder

You've heard of New England & Manhattan, but have you ever tried Rhode Island Clam Chowder? It's a lighter, brighter version of the classics!
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American
Diet Gluten Free, Low Fat
Cook Time 30 minutes
Soaking time for Clams 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 177kcal
Author Tracy



  • 2 lbs fresh clams steamed and chopped (instructions to follow)
  • 4 cloves garlic, divided minced
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 4-6 small red potatoes, quartered or cut small about 1 1/2 cups
  • 2-4 slices bacon fried crispy and crumbled
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped 1 cup
  • 1/2 large white onion, chopped 1 cup
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 3 cups of water or clam juice, see notes.


  • Clean clams by rinsing them well and placing them in a bowl filled with cold water and sprinkled with ground pepper. Let sit for 1 hour.
  • Meanwhile, prep your veggies and in a large pot or dutch oven, cook your bacon until crispy. Remove bacon and place on paper towel lined plate to cool. Remove most of the bacon grease, but reserve a little (at least 1/2 tablespoon) in the pot.
  • After the hour, scoop out clams with a slotted spoon (do not pour into a colander, sand will have rested to the bottom of the bowl), rinse again, and scrub the outside of the shells to remove any last bits.
  • In a large sauté pan on medium, heat olive oil and sauté garlic 1/2 of the garlic for 1 - 2 minutes. Add white wine and cook for about 2 - 3 minutes. Add clams and cover pan. Let steam for 8-10 minutes until clams are opened.
  • Remove clams from pan and discard any clams that have not opened. Clean clams out of shells, give a quick chop on a cutting board, and set aside.
  • Heat the pot you cooked your bacon and that has some bacon grease to medium. Add onions, garlic, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 6 minutes. Add potatoes, thyme, and then water +/ clam juice enough to cover all ingredients. Add 1-2 teaspoons of salt and fresh ground pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer until potatoes are soft, approximately 20 minutes.
  • Once potatoes are almost tender, add clams and crumbled bacon to the pot and let simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
  • Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve and enjoy!


Water and Clam Juice:  For the broth of the chowder you can use either just water or a combination of water and clam juice.  Use max 1/2 cup of clam juice. It will add a briny, salty flavor so if using any amount, cut the salt.  Also, if using clam juice I would substitute the bacon grease to cook the onions and garlic in and use olive oil or butter instead. 
Thyme: Substitute 3 sprigs of fresh thyme and add whole to chowder. Remove sprigs before serving. 


Calories: 177kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 1042mg | Potassium: 700mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 129IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 2mg