Want to know what I did on the hottest day of the year??

Fresh New England Clam Chowder with Brown Butter Garlic Croutons I howsweeteats.com

Made soup.

Like real, time intensive soup. Like, make-your-own-stock type of soup. Serious business.

And then I forced my husband to eat it. On the HOTTEST DAY OF THE YEAR.

Fresh New England Clam Chowder with Brown Butter Garlic Croutons I howsweeteats.com

Reaching 100 degrees in the Pittsburgh area is rare, but you can bet that I celebrated by having my gas stovetop on for about four hours last Friday. Would you expect anything less? Probably not.

I gotta give m husband a shout out too though. The soup was THISCLOSE to not happening. I have wanted to make fresh clam chowder for over two years now, and on the day I chose to do so, the day I planned so carefully, just sure that one of the four grocery stores I’d go to would absolutely have fresh clams… none of them did. I.was.heartbroken.

Fresh New England Clam Chowder with Brown Butter Garlic Croutons I howsweeteats.com

I bought eight cans of clams and six VERY expensive cans of clam stock just in case, then in a panic contacted everyone I knew asking if they’d be in the downtown area and could they pretty please stop and find me some clams and bring them to my doorstep immediately puuhhhhlease?!?! But no dice. Everyone has lives. Who would’ve thought? Luckily clam chowder just happens to be my husband’s favorite soup, and since he was on his was home from the airport after a week away, he quickly spun a u-turn and saved my life with a bulging brown paper bag filled to the brim with little neckclams on ice.

Myocardial infarction was practically my middle name. It was like Christmas!

And here’s the thing.

We’ve basically been ships passing in the night since the beginning of June, with him gone almost each week and myself traveling across the country three times in four weeks… but seriously this situation works rather nicely for us. Not that I’ve kept that a secret at all… hello having a big fluffy bed all to myself. It almost makes me want to be a single old spinster for all of eternity. But yeah. He’s a bachelor for life stuck in a married man’s body and I’m a psychotic nutcase that thrives on being alone so I can get all wacky up inside my head and overanalyze my entire life. Trust me… It works. I like to call myself a tortured artist even then I possess no artistry whatsoever and hope that one day I will have some great works come out of my torturedness. Which basically consists of a heck of a lot of anxiety over three or four any given premium cable fictional relationships. Depends on the season, you know.

Fresh New England Clam Chowder with Brown Butter Garlic Croutons I howsweeteats.com

So I thought… what better way to welcome him home on Friday than with clam chowder!? Yeah yeah – don’t answer that.

I wanted to make him something since I was leaving a mere 36 hours later, and because I rarely think before I act (or uh, speak) the plans (minus the clams) were ready to go, nearly all the ingredients were bought and that chowder was happening in my kitchen no.matter.what.

Fresh New England Clam Chowder with Brown Butter Garlic Croutons I howsweeteats.com

And to top the whole thing off? Croutons. Not just any croutons. Golden cubes of toasty bread doused in a brown butter drizzle.

Oh! Speaking of croutons, last night as we were driving home from the airport, I turned to him and asked what he had been eating since I’d been away. His response? SALAD. Salad? For real? What what? I asked what was on his salad and he tells me “lettuce… tomatoes… croutons… hard-boiled eggs…”

Croutons? Did you make your own croutons? I questioned him.

But no. He BOUGHT boxed croutons. And this is the part where I tell you how I am a crouton snob. And how could he possible BUY gross, stale, chemically-laden croutons two days after I made brown butter garlic croutons?! Ugh. The answer still alludes me.

Fresh New England Clam Chowder with Brown Butter Garlic Croutons I howsweeteats.com

But anyway.

Long story short is that a new summer tradition is going to be fresh clam chowder happening in my kitchen. This version is creamy but light – it doesn’t resemble the thick and heavy chowders that most restaurants serve, but it still melts in your mouth and is satisfying while tasting like sunshine and beaches and ocean waves. Without all the sand in your mouth.

Chopped potatoes plus a bit of crispy bacon and fresh herbs and a heavy-handed glug of cream just may be the answer to all of life’s problems.

Fresh New England Clam Chowder with Brown Butter Garlic Croutons I howsweeteats.com

Fresh New England Clam Chowder

[adapted from emeril]

serves 8-10

6 pounds fresh littleneck clams

10 cups of water

6 slices bacon, chopped

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large sweet onion, diced

1 1/2 cups sliced and cleaned leeks

4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

4 fresh thyme springs

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons flour

2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, chopped

2 cups heavy cream

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Add 10 cups of water to a large stock pot and let come to a boil. Once boiling, add clams, cover and let cook for 5 more minutes. Stir, then let cook, covered, for 5-10 minutes more. Remove clams (which should be open) with a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl or colander. Drain water through a very fine strainer a few times (I drained and re-drained 3 times to get rid of the sediment and sand) and reserve 6 cups of broth. Set aside. Takes clams out of shells and discard shell. Coarsely chop clams and set aside.

Heat another (or the same one, cleaned) large pot over medium high heat and add bacon. Cook until crispy and fat is rendered, then remove with a slotted spoon and place bacon on a paper towel to drain. Reduce heat on the pot to low, add butter, then add in onions and leeks with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir to coat, then cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add in garlic, thyme and bay leaves, stirring and cooking for another 5 minutes. Increase heat a bit and whisk in flour, stirring for 1-2 minutes to create somewhat of a roux with the vegetables.

Add in potatoes, clams, bacon and reserved clam broth. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer, cooking for 30 minutes. Turn off heat, stir in heavy cream, salt and pepper. Taste and season additionally if desired. Let sit aside while making the croutons, then serve hot with croutons for topping!

Note: you can definitely used canned chopped clams (I’d probably use 4 cans) and water or fish/clam/seafood stock to replace the liquid.


Brown Butter Garlic Croutons

1 loaf french bread, cut into cubes

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 garlic clove, pressed or very finely minced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place bread cubes on a baking sheet. Baking for 10-12 minutes, tossing every 3 minutes until cubes are evenly golden.

While bread is toasting, heat butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk constantly until small brown bits appear on the bottom, about 5-6 minutes. Remove and whisk for another 15 seconds, then toss in pressed garlic and whisk for 1 minute. Let sit until bread is done.

Once bread is toasted, pouring garlic brown butter over croutons and toss quickly. Serve on top of hot bowls of clam chowder!

Fresh New England Clam Chowder with Brown Butter Garlic Croutons I howsweeteats.com

The croutons are basically a meal too. Or so I say.

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80 Responses to “Fresh New England Clam Chowder with Brown Butter Garlic Croutons.”

  1. #
    Lori @ RecipeGirl — July 12, 2012 @ 6:58 am

    Perfect. We LOVE clam chowdah in our house!


  2. #
    Ali @ Peaches and Football — July 12, 2012 @ 6:59 am

    This looks ambitious – I’m scared of clams in their shells!!!

    But I bet it tastes 100x better than the canned soup variety. And by 100x I really mean you cannot compare because it would be like saying orange is the new pink or some other random nonsense that nobody gets right?


    • Jessica — July 12th, 2012 @ 10:45 am

      Promise – it’s not difficult at all.


  3. #
    Simply Life — July 12, 2012 @ 7:18 am

    oooh I could DEFINITELY eat this even in 100 degree weather!


  4. #
    Stately Things — July 12, 2012 @ 7:25 am

    This looks like just about the tastiest thing ever. We are absolutely obsessed with your blog & think you’re too-die-for funny.


    • Jessica — July 12th, 2012 @ 10:45 am

      Thank you!


  5. #
    Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat — July 12, 2012 @ 7:32 am

    Yumm! You went all out on this one, with the homemade croutons and everything! I hope Mr How Sweet was impressed. And don’t worry about turning on your stove on the hottest day of the year. I do it too, and I like to think of it as the next great sport. Instead of hot yoga, it’s like hot yoga in the kitchen…. with a few awkward bends so that you can get your hand in a shot that you’re taking while holding your camera in the other. Great pics!! :)


    • Jessica — July 12th, 2012 @ 10:44 am

      I like where your head is at.


  6. #
    Cait's Plate — July 12, 2012 @ 8:00 am

    I actually made soup the other day too. And ate it alongside pasta…hot weather be damned. What’s good is good.


  7. #
    Jen @ keepitsimplefoods — July 12, 2012 @ 8:09 am

    Haha, I too have been eating hot foods on ridiculously hot days. Oh well. This looks delish!


  8. #
    Alicia — July 12, 2012 @ 8:18 am

    As a born and raised Bostonian, you have hit the nail on the head ,that looks so good!
    Here I come fish monger!


    • Jessica — July 12th, 2012 @ 10:44 am

      Oh that makes me so happy!


  9. #
    Katie — July 12, 2012 @ 8:20 am

    I accidentally cook something that necessitates long periods of the oven being on almost EVERY time it’s 100 degrees. It’s like some weird special skill I have.

    Also, those brown butter croutons for dinner tonight? Ohhhh heck yes.


    • Jessica — July 12th, 2012 @ 10:44 am

      I do it all the time too… what’s up with that. Rebels.


  10. #
    lclikessnacks — July 12, 2012 @ 8:29 am


    and I love store bought boxed croutons.. seriously love.


  11. #
    Kim in MD — July 12, 2012 @ 8:33 am

    I laughed through this entire post! :-) Mr. How Sweet was very sweet to bring you home the clams for this chowder, and very lucky that you are such an amazing cook! I want a bowl of this chowder for breakfast! What? Is that bad?


    • Jessica — July 12th, 2012 @ 10:43 am

      I actually ate some for breakfast last Saturday… not kidding.


  12. #
    Kelly — July 12, 2012 @ 8:34 am

    I have honestly neve had clam chowder…blame it on the fact that I live in Texas. But I could totally face plant into those croutons!


    • Jessica — July 12th, 2012 @ 10:42 am

      I don’t think I’d ever consume soup if I lived in Texas. My face melts off enough without it.


      • Kelly — July 12th, 2012 @ 7:14 pm

        Yeah…we aren’t big soup eaters. In the winter I will make chili or tortilla soup but that is about all I can stand. Even then we are talking like lows in the 40’s…I know you’re laughing.

  13. #
    Kaitlin @4loveofcarrots — July 12, 2012 @ 8:48 am

    holy yumminess I love new england clam chowder!!


  14. #
    Ryan @ Spicy Richmond — July 12, 2012 @ 9:03 am

    Clam Chowder is my fave!! Croutons sound WAY better than oyster crackers too. Yum!


  15. #
    Harper — July 12, 2012 @ 9:24 am

    You are ruining my life. It is 101 here today and this is all I can think about. Not okay lady.


  16. #
    Stacy — July 12, 2012 @ 9:30 am

    Wonderful recipe! Quick question though – I didn’t see where you put the clams back into the chowder. Do you add them in with the cream to reheat them or earlier? Are you putting them in whole or chopping? Okay, yeah, that was 2 questions.


    • Jessica — July 12th, 2012 @ 10:41 am

      Oye! My apologies… just fixed it in the recipe – I coarsely chop the clams, then add them back in with the potatoes, stock, etc. Thanks!


  17. #
    Heather (Heather's Dish) — July 12, 2012 @ 9:32 am

    i’m going crazy right now…must.have.clam.chowder.


  18. #
    Bev @ Bev Cooks — July 12, 2012 @ 9:37 am

    OMG I’ve had clams on the brain too! But in pasta form. Plus I just like to think and say out loud to no one, “little neck little neck little neck.”

    I need friends.


  19. #
    Ann — July 12, 2012 @ 9:43 am

    Yum. My husband would love this. I appreciate how you are so honest about the fact that you two actually like time apart…it’s refreshing, and hilarious. And I can relate. :)


    • Jessica — July 12th, 2012 @ 10:38 am

      OMG… we would not survive without it, ha!


  20. #
    Tina {My Life as a Mrs} — July 12, 2012 @ 9:54 am

    i. freaking. love. you. That’s all. :)


  21. #
    Amber @ Slim Pickin's Kitchen — July 12, 2012 @ 10:30 am

    Yum! I lurve CHOWDA!


  22. #
    Evelyn — July 12, 2012 @ 10:39 am

    Okay seriously. One of the first things I do most days (and by ‘most’ I mean ‘every’) is check your blog because it makes me lose it. ALSO, I love your consistent use of cheese…blueberries…cream…bacon….etc. Thanks so much for giving a butter-loving Canadian a good laugh every. day.


    • Jessica — July 12th, 2012 @ 10:41 am

      Thanks for reading Evelyn!


  23. #
    Sues — July 12, 2012 @ 11:26 am

    Wow, how awesome does this look?? I’ve never made my own clam chowder before, but I do love it. Yours is one of the prettiest I’ve ever seen!


  24. #
    Tasha Z — July 12, 2012 @ 11:42 am

    Sometimes Hot needs HOT to counter the effect … right? lol Love this and I will be trying it for sure! Thanks for sharing.


  25. #
    Liz @ Tip Top Shape — July 12, 2012 @ 11:58 am

    This looks delicious!!!!


  26. #
    Sarah — July 12, 2012 @ 12:06 pm

    You’re not the only weird ‘burgher that cooks soup in 100 degree weather. :) I made soup that day too. After spending a week in Cancun–and eating soup every day.


  27. #
    Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) — July 12, 2012 @ 12:31 pm

    I like eating soups on hot days! That looks soooooooo good! I haven’t ever made clam chowder, but this post makes me a little less afraid to attempt it :-)


  28. #
    Ashley Bee (Quarter Life Crisis Cuisine) — July 12, 2012 @ 12:52 pm

    Bookmarking this because I NEED to make clam chowder from scratch someday soon! Also, I totally love love love the pictures. So gorgeous.


  29. #
    Chelsea — July 12, 2012 @ 1:28 pm

    I want a bowl of this right now! Even though it’s only 10:30 am and already 90 degrees here…crazy!


  30. #
    Bethany — July 12, 2012 @ 1:32 pm

    Youre the best. And if Pittsburg was closer to Cape Cod, I would have hand delivered fresh from the sand clams to your doorstep. My father has a clamming permit and comes home with buckets of clams whenever they are needed, or not needed, just to have. I live in Boston and besides being able to visit the ‘rents on the Cape whenever I want, fresh summer clams are one of the best perks. This recipe will def be made in that kitchen this summer :)


  31. #
    Averie @ Averie Cooks — July 12, 2012 @ 2:19 pm

    Wow…you outdid yourself. The stock, the clams, the whole thing. The croutons. And of course, the hottest day of the year. I usually have a knack for canning, broiling things, or having a huge kitchen/baking day on the hottest ones, too. Or moving! I have moved in 100 degree heat so many times in my life…crazy.


  32. #
    Meg@ourwaytoeat.com — July 12, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

    You are so funny. I just love your blog. I share that same dementedness where I am going to make this certain thing that involves roasting at 500 degrees on a 100 degree day. Oh. That’s tonight!! Steaks need baked potatoes!


  33. #
    Sam @ Better With Sprinkles — July 12, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

    I absolutely hate croutons – but I feel like I wouldn’t hate these. Maybe I’m just used to the store-bought, processed, chemically laden junk ones?


    • Jessica — July 12th, 2012 @ 9:52 pm

      How can one hate croutons!? I don’t care for bread that much and even I like croutons!


  34. #
    Moni Meals — July 12, 2012 @ 6:02 pm

    I’m a little intimidated on this one. :/ You certainly did a good job breaking it down though…and croutons all the way baby. :-)


    • Jessica — July 12th, 2012 @ 9:52 pm

      Don’t be intimidated!


  35. #
    Beth (kitchenminions) — July 12, 2012 @ 7:57 pm

    I can’t believe it got to 100 degrees in pgh! I expect that horribleness in DC, but we didn’t even have a/c when I lived there, yikes! On a better note, I have to make this recipe. I hope Wegman’s still has clams on sale!


  36. #
    Gabby (Quest for Delicious) — July 12, 2012 @ 8:24 pm

    Oh my word. Doesn’t matter how hot it is, I’m such that soup is fantastic regardless.


  37. #
    Stacey! — July 12, 2012 @ 8:45 pm

    Oh gurllll… I’ve been dying to make clam chowder forever. I kept starting with Ina’s recipe, but I kept imaging myself screwing up and her appearing in my kitchen, barefoot, laughing in my face, going “How easy is that?!”. Yeah. So when it stops being 107 in south Texas, I’ll make your chowder with glee. You’re the best!


  38. #
    Kristina @ Love & Zest — July 12, 2012 @ 8:53 pm

    I’ve been wanting to make clam chowder lately too… glad i’m not the only one who eats warm soup on a hot day.


  39. #
    Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes — July 13, 2012 @ 1:14 am

    hahaha i laughed so hard at the part about being alone and over-analyzing your entire life. Story of my life!


  40. #
    JulieD — July 13, 2012 @ 3:05 am

    I’m dying over this…must figure out a way to make this without bacon…I’m soooo annoying aren’t I?


  41. #
    Cookbook Queen — July 13, 2012 @ 9:33 am

    DYING over this…my husband LOVES clam chowder and this is the best I’ve seen!!


  42. #
    Kim C — July 13, 2012 @ 11:41 am

    Holy Wow, I LOVE clam chowder and this looks Amazing!!! I wish I could make it exactly the way you did but I’m slightly aftraid to work with fresh clams.

    Just for the record I believe you are an artist, you’re recipes and beautiful photographes are proof of that :D


  43. #
    Rachel @ Baked by Rachel — July 13, 2012 @ 12:00 pm

    I’ve only made clam chowder once… in the slow cooker because it’s just easy when you have a house full of children running a mock BUT I really want to make a fresh version sometime. Fresh for summer, canned clams for winter – yes? :)


  44. #
    Dotty — July 13, 2012 @ 3:00 pm

    So glad I’m not the only one with soup on their minds in this heat! Is it wrong that I’m already thinking about making game-day chili? Minus the game-day?


  45. #
    HeatherChristo — July 14, 2012 @ 4:49 pm

    I too am a crouton snob.

    Homemade clam chowder is a beautiful thing. Looks so, so good.


  46. #
    Kimiko — July 22, 2012 @ 7:35 pm

    So I’m a little behind on my blog-reading (I know). But, this totally made me LOL because I made soup two nights ago when it was freakin’ HOT here. I think we are both a little crazy. Haha


  47. #
    Amanda Helling — July 24, 2012 @ 3:11 pm

    omg. I am so excited. I have been searching and searching and searching for a clam chowder recipe. I even was going to beg you to make one! I haven’t found a good one ever. Now I know where to go! I know this will be delicious!


  48. #
    Heather — November 16, 2013 @ 1:52 am

    Holy cow!!
    I stumbled upon this randomly, while making homemade chowder myself.
    You are absolutely HILARIOUS!!! I adore your writing style!
    Hottest day of the year? DUH, SOUP!!!
    Stove on f


  49. #
    Heather — November 16, 2013 @ 1:53 am

    Holy cow!!
    I stumbled upon this randomly, while making homemade chowder myself.
    You are absolutely HILARIOUS!!! I adore your writing style!
    Hottest day of the year? DUH, SOUP!!!
    Stove on for 4 hours? Who cares!
    Thank you for the laughs!


  50. #
    Vicki — November 18, 2013 @ 2:52 pm

    This sounds so good but seems like alot of clams…..



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