Classic, creamy Out West Clam Chowder made with chopped canned clams, red potatoes, celery, onion and tarragon, topped with bacon and homemade croutons.
The addition of French tarragon and baby red potatoes takes this diner-style chowder up a notch. Tarragon is the perfect herb to accent a variety of seafood dishes. Its sweet aromatic taste adds an elegant feel to anything from chowder to fish. Using baby red potatoes in place of russet potatoes adds extra creaminess.
Canned clams are used for the sake of a quick weeknight meal, but you can definitely use fresh clams if you have those on hand. Fresh is always best, even fresh clams that you have frozen work well in this dish. Taylor Shellfish is a local farm that I like to purchase my seafood from. Click the link to order farm fresh clams for this recipe.
The use of clam juice really packs in the clam flavor. I recommend this over using chicken broth, which can give a weird, sometimes over salty flavor to chowder. We are going for a really white and creamy appearance to this chowder. Clam juice is the best way to achieve this.
Ingredients in Out West Clam Chowder
- Chopped Clams – Canned chopped clams make this an easy pantry recipe.
- Clam Juice – Bottled clam juice plus the juice from the canned clams.
- Red Baby Potatoes – Also called red creamers, they cook up quick and are tender.
- Celery – Classic clam chowder ingredient for a fresh taste.
- Onion – Sweet yellow onion diced for flavor.
- Milk – Whole milk works the best for creaminess.
- Heavy Cream – Heavy cream, or whipping cream, adds a richness to clam chowder.
Out West Clam Chowder
- 3 strips thick cut peppered bacon cut into lardons
- 4 tbsp. butter
- 2 stalks celery about 1/4 cup chopped
- 1/2 yellow onion about 1 cup chopped
- 4 tbsp. flour
- 1 8 oz. bottle of clam juice
- 4-5 baby red potatoes halved and sliced
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 6.5 oz. cans of chopped clams liquid reserved
- 1 sprig fresh tarragon, stem removed or about a tbsp. dried tarragon
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 3 slices thick sliced rustic French bread large cubed
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 pinch Lawry's garlic salt
- Cook bacon lardons in soup pot over medium high heat, rendering all the fat until just crispy. Remove from pot and set aside for garnish.
- Add butter to the pot. When melted, add celery and onion. Sauté until until just softened. Stir in flour and continue to stir as it bubbles and thickens for a minute or so. This will cook the flour taste out of the roux.
- Add bottle of clam juice and reserved clam juice from the cans of clams. Stir well until combined. Add the sliced baby red potatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook until just fork tender.
- Add milk, heavy cream, chopped clams, salt, pepper and tarragon. Continue cooking for about 20 minutes.
- Serve topped with bacon, more tarragon and homemade croutons, if desired.
- Heat olive oil in pan over medium high heat. Toss in large bread cubes, turning to coat. Continue turning to brown each side. Remove from pan to paper towel, removing excess oil. Sprinkle Lawry's garlic salt over to season.
If you love clams, you will definitely want to try my Steamer Clams with Bacon and Fennel served over grilled French bread, it’s perfect for sharing. Farm Style Clam Chowder is an amped up version of my classic clam chowder. It really showcases fresh clams in a lighter cream chowder.
This is making my head explode. Everything in the recipe is correct EXCEPT for the spice. The correct spice is Thyme, not Tarragon. Anybody from the East coast knows this.
I appreciate your comment, David. Thyme is a classic ingredient and you can definitely switch out the tarragon for thyme in this recipe, but I really enjoy the flavor of tarragon. It pairs really nicely with many seafood dishes.