New England clam chowder in white bowl with a silver spoon

Lightened-Up New England Clam Chowder: Creamy Comfort, Without the Guilt

New England clam chowder evokes images of quaint coastal towns, crisp sea air, and cozy seaside eateries. It embodies comfort, and warmth, offering a taste of tradition with each velvety mouthful. And with a few tweaks, it can be a wholesome guilt-free delight!

How We Lightened Up The Classic White Clam Chowder

Traditional New England clam chowder recipes include butter, heavy cream and bacon. In fact, this classic Bon Appetit recipe boasts up to 790 calories per serving, 26 grams of fat, of which 17 grams is saturated fat.

The first easy swap is to use olive oil to sauté the vegetables instead of butter. By using 2% milk instead of cream, I significantly reduce the calorie and saturated fat content without sacrificing flavor. Additionally, blending half of the soup creates a creamy texture without the need for additional cream. As for bacon, I omit it altogether to keep the recipe Mediterranean Diet friendly.

Get ready to slurp down this chowder feeling good about each creamy spoonful – guilt-free comfort food at its finest!

Ingredients For The Best New England Clam Chowder

ingredients for New England clam chowder
  • Extra virgin olive oil: Replaces the traditional butter to provide heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
  • All-purpose flour: Thickens the soup to achieve that creamy consistency without the heavy cream.
  • Leek: Use the white part only; save the green to add to a vegetable soup or to make vegetable stock. Leeks impart a delicate onion flavor and subtle sweetness to the chowder.
  • Celery: Adds a refreshing crunch and fiber.
  • Garlic: Adds depth of flavor and multiple health benefits.
  • Russet potatoes: Provide hearty texture and bulk to the soup, delivering essential nutrients like potassium and vitamin C.
  • Dry white wine: Infuses the chowder with a subtle acidity and brightness, balancing the richness of the other ingredients.
  • Milk: Creates a creamy base for the chowder, offering calcium and protein for added nutritional value. I opt for 2% milk because it strikes a perfect balance between flavor and saturated fat content.
  • Canned whole baby clams: The star ingredient, offering briny goodness and a taste of the sea in every spoonful. Opting for canned clams makes whipping up this easy clam chowder a breeze. They are convenient and are budget-friendly. I also use the canned clam juice to season the soup to add depth of flavor. Clams are a good source of protein, iron, vitamin B12, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Bay leaves & Thyme: Aromatic herbs for layers of flavor.
  • Parsley: Fresh parsley adds a pop of color and brightness as a garnish, while providing anti-oxidants.
  • Salt & Pepper: To make all the flavors pop, ensuring a perfectly balanced chowder!

Step-by-step: How To Make A Healthy Clam Chowder

This clam chowder is an easy one-pot recipe. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Sauté leeks and celery in olive oil until soft.
  2. Add garlic and cook briefly.
  3. Add white wine and let it reduce.
  4. Stir in flour, then add milk, clam juice, potatoes, and seasonings.
  5. Simmer until potatoes are tender.
  6. Blend half of the soup for a creamy consistency.
  7. Add clams and cook for a few more minutes.
  8. Serve hot, garnished with parsley.

For detailed instructions, see recipe below.

Recipe Tips And Substitutions

  • To make it gluten-free, use a gluten-free flour blend or cornstarch as a thickening agent.
  • Feel free to add additional vegetables such as carrots or corn for extra texture and flavor.

Serving Suggestions

  • Pair this Lightened-Up New England Clam Chowder with crusty bread for dipping and sopping up the delicious broth.
  • Accompany with steamed vegetables for a well-rounded meal.
  • A side salad with a citrus vinaigrette would also complement the flavors perfectly.
  • Serve the clam chowder in bread bowls for a rustic presentation.

Storage

  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Reheat gently on the stovetop over low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.

Try These Other Delicious Recipes

Linguine with Clam Sauce

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Lentil and Barley Stew

Silky Green Soup

New England clam chowder in white bowl with a silver spoon
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5 from 3 votes

New England Clam Chowder

A lighter twist on the classic New England clam chowder, packed with flavor and nutrition. This creamy white chowder recipe is loaded with clams and a guilt-free delight!
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: Veronique Eichler

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add leeks and celery, and cook until soft, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Add garlic and cook for another minute.
  • Add white wine and cook down until mostly evaporated.
  • Stir in flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Pour in milk, reserved clam juice, potatoes, bay leaf, thyme, and salt & pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on low until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Remove half of the soup, discard bay leaves, and blend until smooth.
  • Return to the pot. Add clams and adjust salt if needed. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Serve hot, garnished with fresh parsley.

Notes

  • To make it gluten-free, use a gluten-free flour blend or cornstarch as a thickening agent.
  • Feel free to add additional vegetables such as carrots or corn for extra texture and flavor.
  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Reheat gently on the stovetop over low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
New England Clam Chowder
Amount per Serving
Calories
270
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
 
8
g
12
%
Saturated Fat
 
2
g
13
%
Trans Fat
 
0.1
g
Cholesterol
 
51
mg
17
%
Sodium
 
167
mg
7
%
Total Carbohydrate
 
33
g
11
%
Dietary Fiber
 
2
g
8
%
Total Sugars
 
8
g
9
%
Protein
 
13
g
26
%
Vitamin A
 
595
IU
12
%
Vitamin C
 
13
mg
16
%
Calcium
 
199
mg
20
%
Iron
 
8
mg
44
%
Potassium
 
735
mg
21
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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6 Comments

  1. Connie mogel

    Is it ok to have milk and flour on Mediterranean diet with this recipe

    • Veronique Eichler

      Of course! The Mediterranean Diet recommends daily servings of dairy, milk included. As for flour, yes, it is a refined grain, but there are only 2 tbsp for the whole recipe, used to thicken the chowder. If you want, you can use white whole wheat flour instead of all purpose; it is mot quite as good for thickening, though, and will only add an insignificant amount of nutrients. Keep in mind that no food is off limits in this way of eating, but it’s about proportions!

  2. Beth Barker

    5 stars
    This recipe came together quickly and my family and I agree it is delicious! No one missed the heavy butter and dairy. Thanks for this terrific recipe, it will be on regular rotation!

    • Veronique Eichler

      Thank you so much, Beth! I am so happy you and your family enjoyed it! Hope you try some others soon!

  3. 5 stars
    This is an amazing recipe that makes as delicious a New England clam chowder as I have ever had (including in Boston)!

5 from 3 votes (1 rating without comment)

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