If fresh clams are hard to find, use frozen or canned clams for this classic recipe from New England. Large clams should be cut into chunky pieces. Reserve a few clams in their shells for garnish, if you like. Traditionally, the soup is served with savory biscuits called saltine crackers. You should be able to find these in any good delicatessen.

  • 100 g / 3¾ oz salt port or thinly sliced unsmoked bacon, diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 cm / ½ in cubes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 300 ml / ½ pint / 1¼ cups milk
  • 400 g / 14 oz cooked clams, cooking liquid reserved
  • 150 ml / ¼ pint / ⅔ cup double (heavy) cream
  • salt, ground white pepper and cayenne pepper
  • finely chopped fresh parsley, to garnish
  1. Put the salt port or unsmoked bacon in a pan, and heat gently, stirring frequently, until the fat runs and the meat is starting to brown. Add the chopped onion and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned.
  2. Add the cubed potatoes, the bay leaf and thyme sprig, stir well to coat with fat, then pour in the milk and reserved clam liquid and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are tender but still firm. Lift out the bay leaf and thyme sprig and discard.
  3. Remove the shells from most of the clams. Add all the clams to the pan and season to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne. Simmer gently for 5 minutes more, then stir in the cream. Heat until the soup is very hot, but do not allow it to boil. Pour into a warmed tureen, garnish with the chopped fresh parsley and serve immediately.
Clam Chowder