Recipe: Lowfat New England Clam Chowder

by Dana B. Bryant

Clam ChowderAuthor Joseph C. Lincoln (1870-1944) said that New England Clam Chowder is a dish to preach about, to chant praises and sing hymns and burn incense before. It is as American as the Stars and Stripes, as patriotic as the national Anthem. It is "Yankee Doodle in a kettle."

That pretty much summarizes America's love affair with clam chowder. Cream, potatoes and bacon combine for a creamy, almost addictive comfort food. Unfortunately today's average American views those ingredients with guilt.

What can a clam chowder loving, but health-conscious person do? We suggest you test this recipe! By switching out part of the potatoes for cauliflower and substituting yogurt and milk for the cream, we've created a chowder that's satisfying and healthy.

Serve it as an easy lunch or a hearty dinner, topped with oyster crackers or served with a slice of crusty, sourdough bread.

Low Fat New England Clam Chowder

Prep time: 15 minutes | Total time: 30 minutes | Yield: 4 servings


• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 medium yellow onion, diced
• 1/2 cup celery, diced
• 4 garlic cloves, chopped finely
• 2 cups cauliflower florets
• 2 cups potatoes, diced
• 1 cup water
• three 6.5-ounce cans chopped clams, drained, reserve liquid
• 1 1/2 cups milk
• 2 tablespoons cornstarch
• 6 tablespoons real bacon bits
• 2/3 cup Greek yogurt
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
• salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a large pot or a dutch oven, heat olive oil. Add the onion and celery and garlic. Cook 3 to 4 minutes until vegetables are slightly softened. Add the potatoes, water and clam juice. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Whisk together the corn starch and milk. Increase the heat to medium and add the milk mixture, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and simmer until the soup thickens.

Add the clams and bacon bits to the soup. Remove from the stove. Whisk in the yogurt and garnish with chives. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Cook's Note

The word "chowder" might have its roots in the French chaudiére, which translated as "pot." Some argue that it comes from the 16th century English word jowter, which means fishmonger. Wherever the word itself originated, clam chowder became popular in New England. It comes in a variety of styles:

  • The New England variety is made with milk or cream.
  • The Manhattan chowder, also called Coney Island Chowder, is made with tomatoes.
  • The Rhode Island Chowder has a clear broth and contains corn. Usually cod fish for the clams.

While clam chowder's wonderful ladled into a bowl -- the bigger the better -- a new trend is out and about. Consider serving your chowder in sourdough bread bowls.

Does your family have a favorite chowder recipe or type? Let us know about it!