maine clam chowder

Buttery Milky Maine Clam Chowder with Steamers

Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings
Author Craig Fear


  • 3-4 pounds steamer clams
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 TBSPs or 1 stick butter unsalted
  • 1 large yellow onion diced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pound Yukon gold potatoes peeled and diced into small cubes
  • 3 cups steamer clam broth
  • 1 cup raw whole milk or half and half

Optional seasonings, to taste

  • Fresh lemon juice HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh parsley chopped
  • Fresh chives chopped
  • Crackers of your choice
  • Tabasco or hot sauce of your choice
  • Seafood seasoning


  1. Rinse the clams in cold water and then place them in a pot and cover them with cold water. Soak them for a few minutes, stir them around gently once or twice, drain the water and then repeat this a few times more until there’s no grit left. Discard any with cracked or damaged shells.

  2. Bring 1 cup water to a boil in a 5-6 quart stock pot and add the clams. Steam for about 5 minutes or until shells open widely. Stir clams once or twice to steam evenly being careful not to crack the brittle shells. Remove from heat as soon as shells open. Remove the clams and strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer. You should get about 3 to 4 cups of broth. Set the broth aside and reserve.
  3. Let the clams cool down for a few minutes and then remove the clam meat from the shells. Pull off the black covering from the siphon or slice off the siphon entirely, if you prefer. Set the clam meats aside.
  4. Heat the butter in a medium-sized stock pot over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Saute until veggies are softened, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add potatoes and enough clam broth to completely submerge the potatoes in the broth. This should equate to about 3 cups of broth, give or take a ½ cup either way.
  6. Cover the pot, raise the heat to rolling boil and cook until the potatoes are tender.
  7. Remove from the heat and stir in the clam meats and milk or half and half. Add more milk or half and half, if needed.
  8. Ladle into individual bowls and add optional seasonings, to taste.