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Ann Visser’s Clam Chowder

By , from the Spencer Adrian collection
Serves 2 to 4

Culinate editor’s notes: Double this recipe if you’re feeding more than a few diners, especially for a main course. If you like, cook the bacon alone and save it to use as a crispy garnish; cook the onions and the rest of the stew in the rendered bacon fat. And if you don’t have fresh clams, canned clams (including their juices) work just fine.


My grandmother, Ann Visser, grew up in Germany and moved here with my grandfather around 40 years ago. All seven of her grandchildren have grown up eating her dishes, and this clam chowder was always a family favorite. She would often make it during the summer while camping at Hood Canal. It is best enjoyed while looking out over the canal and sitting by a campfire.


2 strips bacon, diced
½ white onion, chopped
½ cup chopped celery
1 carrot, chopped 
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
1 can (14½ ounces) chicken broth
1 cup chopped clams (either butter or horse clams)
1 cup half-and-half
~ Salt, pepper, and paprika, to taste
~ Freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
~ Cornstarch, for thickening (optional)
~ Chopped fresh parsley, for garnishing
~ Crackers or bread, for serving


  1. Put the bacon and onions in a deep pot and cook over medium-low heat until the onions become translucent and the bacon is cooked through.
  2. Add the celery, carrots, potatoes, and chicken stock, and simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.
  3. Add the half and half and the clams, and season with a little salt, black pepper, and paprika. If you like, add a little nutmeg. Cook for another 15 minutes, but pay attention; if the clams are cooked for too long, they will become tough. 
  4. If the chowder needs thickening, mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with a little water until a paste forms. Slowly stir the paste into the chowder and cook for another minute or so. 
  5. Ladle into bowls and garnish with more nutmeg, if desired, and parsley. Serve immediately, with crackers or bread on the side.

Related article: Shellfish season

This content is from the Spencer Adrian collection.

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