Recipe: ultimate clam chowder by Matunuck Oyster Bar

This briny broth is the ultimate comfort food – perfect on a cold day

Clam chowder by Matunuck Oyster Bar in Rhode Island
Clam chowder by Matunuck Oyster Bar in Rhode Island

Steaming the clams might seem laborious, but it’s actually easy and makes a briny broth, says Perry Raso, owner of Matunuck Oyster Bar in Rhode Island, US. Aim to extract six cups of broth from the clams; if not, you’ll need to have some bottled clam juice on hand to round it out.

Ingredients: makes eight to ten portions

  • 3.6 kilos small quahogs or large cherrystone clams
  • 1.75 litres water
  • 1.5 litres clam broth (from steaming) or 1 litre clam broth plus 500ml bottled clam juice
  • 3 slices thick-sliced bacon, cut into small cubes
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium-sized onions, cut into small cubes
  • 3 ribs of celery, cut into small cubes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 kilo of all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh dill
  • good quality salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • Scrub the clams and rinse them clean.
  • Add 1.75 litres of water to a large stockpot fitted with a steamer basket or colander and bring to a boil.
  • Add half the clams to the basket and cover. Steam until the clams open (five to ten minutes). Discard any clams that don’t open.
  • Repeat with the second batch of clams. Reserve 1.5 litres of the broth. Set aside.
  • Cool the clams; remove the meat from the shells and dice it into small pieces.
  • Keep them covered and refrigerated until ready to use.
  • Put the bacon in a pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, (about ten minutes).
  • Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat, leaving the bacon in the pot. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
  • Add the butter, onions, celery, and bay leaves, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened but not browned (six to eight minutes).
  • Add the potatoes and reserved clam broth to the pot. Continue cooking over medium heat until the chowder begins to simmer. If it starts to boil, reduce the heat slightly. Cook until the potatoes are tender (about 15 minutes).
  • Just before serving, remove the pot from the heat, stir in the clams and herbs, discard the bay leaves, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Serve hot.

Perry Raso is the owner of Matunuck Oyster Bar. A Rhode Island native, he has grown his passion from harvesting a few oysters for a couple of dollars aged 12 to operating one of the world’s best restaurants. Matunuck Oyster Bar, which promotes farm-to-table, pond-to-plate practices in sustainable aquaculture, now employs more than 200 people and has been named one of the top ten oyster bars in the world.

Perry Raso recently featured in our Food & Drink newsletter. Sign up for exclusive interviews and recommendations.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.