A classic chowder with a sweet, smoky, and spicy kick
It might just be a Pacific Northwest thing -- because our beaches tend to be a little on the chilly side even in the summer months -- but there's just something about a sunny day at the beach and a bowl of clam chowder that go together so well. This Clam Chowder with Jalapeno and Corn starts with the classic New England-style chowder trappings of potatoes, clams, and bacon in a creamy white soup base, but gets a sweet, smoky, and spicy kick from jalapenos and fire-roasted corn. This chowder is tremendous on cold days, but owing to its fairly brothy body, it carries well all the way through the warmer months without feeling too heavy.
Is this chowder thick or thin?
Though it has a creamy base, this chowder is not the 'so thick you can stand a spoon up in it' variety that's traditionally thickened with a flour roux. I personally prefer a chowder that is creamy and brothy, so you'll only find a small slurry of cornstarch to lightly thicken rather than a thick flour roux.
What kind of clams should I use?
I prefer to use canned clams for this particular chowder because they're super easy to source year-round, cook quickly, and I don't have to worry about deshelling anything. Canned clams are often Atlantic surf clams, though you may be able to find other varieties. However, if you live in an area where fresh clams are accessible you can feel free to use them instead (though you'll want to note that the cooking method and time will vary depending on what type of fresh clam you use). Some of the most common varieties of fresh clams that you might come across are:
- Manilla clams - This clam originated in Japan, but was introduced to Washington state 1920s. Often referred to on the west coast as a "steamer clam," you can often find these clams from British Columbia down to Northern California. They are small and sweet and are often served in their shell. If you prefer your clam chowder on the thin and brothy side, these are a good option to consider.
- Quahogs - Often referred to as a "chowder clam," for their common use in clam chowder, quahogs are a hard-shelled clam common on the east coast that comes in a variety of sizes. From small to large they are: counternecks, littlenecks, topnecks, cherrystones, and quahogs (which is both the name of the type of clam and often a reference to the largest of the bunch).
- Razor clams - You can find different varieties of razor clams on both the west and east coast. Those on the east coast are thinner and more delicate than their west coast counterpart, but both will work for a chowder.
What should I serve with this Clam Chowder with Jalapeno and Corn?
I love serving this creamy chowder recipe with a side of cornbread. This Brown Butter Buttermilk Skillet Cornbread is my favorite! You can also pair it with a classic biscuit to soak up all that brothy goodness; These Grain-Free Biscuits are a great option. If you're more of a traditionalist, a crusty sourdough boule or baguette is also a tasty option.
What tools do I need to make this recipe?
- A cutting board
- A chef's knife
- A kitchen scale - OR - Measuring cups (for less precise measurements)
- Measuring spoons
- A large soup pot or dutch oven
- A wooden spatula or spoon
- A paper-towel-lined plate (to reserve the cooked bacon)
- A small bowl (or measuring cup) + a fork or small whisk (to mix the slurry)
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LOOKING FOR MORE DINNER INSPIRATION?
Love this Clam Chowder recipe? Here are some additional chowders, soups, and stews that you might enjoy!
- Roasted Poblano Corn Chowder
- Cioppino (Fisherman's Stew)
- Cauliflower Chowder with White Cheddar and Bacon
- Roasted Broccoli Cauliflower Soup
- French Lentil Soup
- Chunky Tomato Basil Soup
A note for special diets
This Clam Chowder with Jalapeno and Corn is friendly for gluten-free diets and can easily be made friendly for lactose-free diets by utilizing a lactose-free half & half. This soup can be made friendly for low-fodmap diets by utilizing garlic-infused olive oil rather than fresh garlic, limiting the green onions to the dark tops only, and limiting the amount of celery used per serving. The amount of corn used in this recipe is considered low-fodmap according to Monash based on the suggested individual serving size.
This Clam Chowder with Jalapeno and Corn starts with a creamy New England-style base but gets a spicy kick from jalapenos and fire-roasted corn.
- 4 slices bacon (about 80 g), finely chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil + 2 minced garlic cloves - OR 2 tablespoon garlic-infused olive oil (if low-fodmap)
- 2 celery stalks, chopped (about 100 g) (limit if low-fodmap)
- 1 large jalapeno, seeded and chopped (about 45 g)
- 34 g (about ½ cup) green onions, chopped (dark green tops only if low-fodmap)
- 1 ½ lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes, chopped into generous dices
- 16 oz (about 2 cups) chicken broth
- 16 oz (about 2 cups) half & half (lactose-free if low-fodmap)
- 8 oz (about 1 cup) clam juice
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp dried chives
- ½ tsp Kosher salt
- ¼ tsp cracked black pepper
- ¼ tsp dried cayenne pepper
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 150 g (about 1 cup) frozen fire-roasted corn (may sub for frozen sweet corn)
- 1 tbsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp cold water slurry
- 2 (6 ½ oz) canned clams + juice
- Fresh chopped chives, to top (optional)
- Tabasco, to top (optional)
- Heat a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally until brown and crisp, about 8 minutes, then transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate reserving residual bacon fat in the pot.
- Add olive oil and minced garlic (or garlic-infused olive oil) to the pot. Add celery, jalapeno, and green onions and saute for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add potatoes, broth, half & half, and clam juice to the pot and stir to combine. Season with thyme, parsley, chives, salt, pepper, and cayenne, stirring to combine. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat to medium to maintain a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are nearly fork-tender, about 10-12 minutes. Then add the corn and stir to combine, simmering for an additional 5 minutes.
- Stir the cornstarch and cold water together in a small bowl, whisking with a fork or small whisk until fully dissolved. Add the slurry to the pot, stirring to combine. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes to thicken.
- Add the reserved bacon and the canned clams and their juice to the pot and allow to simmer for about 2 minutes or until heated through (You do not want to overcook the clams or they will become very chewy).
- Taste for salt and adjust as needed. Remove from heat and carefully remove the bay leaf and discard it. Serve warm with an optional sprinkle of fresh chopped chives and a splash of tabasco on top, if desired.
Nutritional information on Whip & Wander is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site.
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 587
- Sugar: 9 g
- Sodium: 1197 mg
- Fat: 30 g
- Saturated Fat: 11 g
- Carbohydrates: 28 g
- Fiber: 2 g
- Protein: 30 g
- Cholesterol: 106 mg
Keywords: clam chowder, jalapeno, corn