Pacific Coast Clam Chowder


 This is one of those weeks when there is just too much to do.  I’m participating in two big holiday events this weekend, the Thanksgiving Harvest Market at the Beaverton Farmers’ Market (8:00 am to 1:30 pm on Saturday, Nov. 19 if you live close-by)  and the Holiday Market at the German American School of Portland (Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 19 and 20).  Gebrannte mandeln, or burnt sugar almonds, are a traditional German holiday treat that I sell at these events along with roasted hazelnuts, pecans and walnuts.  These two events are incredibly busy as shoppers start to prepare for the coming holiday season.  Nuts are packaged in festive cones that are exactly what you would see if you were visiting the holiday markets in Germany. My goal this year was to have my blog shopping page all set up so nuts and other special items would be available for mail order  but I just couldn’t get it put together.  Definitely next year.

 It’s going to be a long weekend so I am doing a little cooking ahead of time so we have something warm and nourishing waiting for us when we get home at night.  The Harvest Market is outside and the temperature won’t get much above 40° on Saturday so soup sounds like a perfect choice.   The key to a good chowder is good ingredients and I try to use fresh local razor clams if they are available.  We love to dig them ourselves on the north Oregon coast (the flavor is out of this world), but if they aren’t available I use canned razors or grocery store chopped clams.  They all make good chowder. To me the consistency of the soup is critical and I have discovered that if I make a cream sauce and add it to the chowder in the final steps I can easily thicken it to  suit our taste.

5.0 from 4 reviews
Pacific Coast Clam Chowder
  • ¼ pound thick sliced bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ¾ cup celery, chopped
  • 3 cups potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup or more fresh clams, shucked and diced or 3-4 cans chopped canned clams
  • 1-1/2 cups clam juice or chicken stock
  • 2-3 cups half and half
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup half and half
  • salt and freshley ground black pepper
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped
  • chopped bacon and oyster crackers for garnish
  1. Fry bacon in a soup pot until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Remove all but 2 tablespoons bacon fat and saute the chopped onion and celery until translucent. Add potato and clam juice or broth and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  2. If you are using fresh chopped clams simmer them in a little salted water for 5-10 minutes until firm. If using canned clams drain off the liquid and add enough broth to make 1-1/2 cups to cook the potatoes.
  3. When the potatoes are tender add desired amount of half and half to the soup. Heat to barely simmering.
  4. Melt ¼ cup butter in a medium saucepan. Stir in 3 tablespoons flour and blend well. Cook for 2 minutes, then mix in 1 cup half and half and stir constantly until sauce is creamy and thick. Add this mixture slowly to the simmering soup until it is the consistency you like. Simmer soup for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Serve garnished with chopped parsley, bacon bits and warmed oyster crackers.

Amounts aren’t exact so don’t worry about being precise in your measurements.  Sometimes I substitute Dungeness crab meat for the clams. Add the crab meat  to the hot soup about 5 minutes before serving and carefully ladle into soup bowls so the crab chunks stay together as much as possible.

 Razor clams are typically about 4-6 inches long .  In Oregon we need a license to dig them and the limit is 12 clams per person per day.  This rule is STRICTLY enforced and the fines for exceeding the daily limit are very high.

 Clamming is best on days with very low tides.  The clams are close to the surface and make a little dimple in the sand.  This spot is very difficult to see and finding these little suckers is a lot harder than you might think.  They can feel the vibration of a person walking on the sand and can dig downward at an amazing rate so clammers have to be quick.   The PVC pipe clam gun is pushed into the sand with as much force as possible with the idea that the clam will be caught in the pipe and pulled up to the surface.  Don’t even think that this is easy to do!

 “I know there is one here someplace”



  1. says

    Clamming, what fun! Your chowder looks so good. Love clam chowder. Can you see my frown? I was hoping someday to buy some of your Gebrannte mandeln!! Next year….I am at the top of your list, yes?
    Susan recently posted..Our veteransMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Lyndsey –
      Razors are strictly a northern west coast clam. We love them here in Oregon and get them as often as we can. I usually pan fry them: dust with flour, dip in beaten egg, then in panko and fry in a HOT pan for no more than one minute per side. If overcooked they get very tough.
      Cathy recently posted..Pacific Coast Clam ChowderMy Profile

  2. Pondside says

    That chowder looks so good – even at 0620!
    I’ve never gone clamming out here, but have done so many times for the smaller, east coast clams.
    Your almonds look 100% authentically German!

  3. says

    Digging for clams looks AMAZING! And the size of those critters! No wonder you can only take home 12 per person! We love digging for clams when we’re in Brittany, but they’re always the small cockle type :)
    I adore this recipe too, by the way and must try to make it myself (even though I did have to look up what “half and half” was :))
    Katia recently lime dipping sauceMy Profile

  4. says

    We love digging for clams with the gkids, they think it is a treasure hunt!
    Remind me to tell you what we call the clams that you have pictured! :)
    I am sure your chowder is delicious! I have a container of chopped clams in the freezer from when we dug them this summer. I will make some chowder for Tgiving. The Pilgrims and Native Americans ate clams and lobsters too. We won’t have the lobster, lol, that would break the bank!
    Hope you do well at the market! The soup will taste great after a long day!
    60 degrees here today, I’ll take it!
    Kathleen recently posted..What’s for Thanksgiving Dessert?My Profile

  5. says

    Great minds; I made a chowder on the weekend and it is very similar to your recipe. I can imagine how much better it must be to have your own Fresh clams; really enjoyed those photos.

  6. says

    What a beautiful post! Clam chowder is something I haven’t made since having to go gluten free a few years ago. This will be simple to adapt and I know my family will love it.

  7. Happier Than A Pig in Mud says

    I haven’t had clam chowder in ages Cathy, it sounds great! Hope you have fun and a very successful weekend:@)

  8. says

    Oh Cathy, I miss the clam chowder on the coast, I’ll never find razor clams here but I can substitute, now if only I can smell that sea air! Have fun and enjoy your busy weekend!
    Marie recently posted..Making GnocchiMy Profile

  9. says

    My German DNA is drooling over those gebrannte mandeln. I have such great childhood memories of the Kirstkindl Market at Christmas. SIGH. LOVED seeing the clamming pics, Cathy. I’ve never done this. My husband isn’t wild about clams, but that’s his loss. I adore clam chowder, and have been craving it for weeks. I’m bookmarking this recipe, because it looks just like the kind of clam chowder I’d love. I don’t have fresh clams, but canned will have to do.
    Foodiewife recently posted..Potato Leek Soup — and my Premiere Secret Recipe Club participationMy Profile

  10. says

    We’ve been on the road without wi-fi access since Monday morning, so I’m behind in my blog reading. If I had to pick just one favorite soup, it would be hard not to go with clam chowder and yours looks super good as do the nuts. Those are pretty serious looking clams – I’ve dug them a time or two on the east coast, but it was easier as they have a little thing like seaweed sticking out of the sand – don’t remember the variety.
    Larry recently posted..Texas RV Trip – Our First Big One – Day 1My Profile

  11. Kathy says

    Cathy, my family was from the Seaside/Astoria area so I grew up digging and enjoying clams. They are a real treat now that I live some hours away from the coast and don’t have the opportunity to get that far west very often.

    Soooo disappointed you won’t be selling your Gebrannte mandeln through your blog. My husband’s German relatives in OR would enjoy them no doubt. Next year!! In the meantime I’ll make a point of going to the Farmer’s Market next season to say Hi when I’m in the area.

  12. says

    You take the most amazing pictures! That picture of the clam chowder is straight out of a magazine! I am such a clam chowder fan. I had never had it until I came out west for college. A roommate made it and I was hooked. The pictures of digging for the clams are just wonderful. They are huge! How fun. Your nuts look great too. Nuts are a real weakness of mine. I just posted some savory ones. I love any kind except Brazil!
    Jacqueline recently posted..Edward and Bella’s Wedding ReceptionMy Profile

  13. says

    How interesting, Cathy! I had no idea that was how you “dug” for clams. I remember one year, while vacationing in Cape Cod, we literally stumbled upon a HUGE bed of mussels. All we had to do was reach down & scoop them up. Much easier! LOL

    Your soup looks delicious. I look forward to trying it in Jan. You’re right, too much is going on right now. Busy, Busy, Busy!!!

    Hugs & Happy T. Day to you,
    Rettabug recently posted..Smocked Nightgown for Ms. C.My Profile

  14. says

    I’ve always loved creamy clam chowder but rarely make it for some reason. Of course, I can’t go clamming the way you do. I love those almonds in the plastic see-through cones too. Good luck setting that up next year.

  15. KarenB says

    My husband, son and grandson went clam digging for Razor clams at Ocean Shores on Sunday, the last day. It was HARD but a wonderful experience ! We go to Ocean Shores every March and were excited to try razor clam digging. We were able to get 17 clams between the two of us and put on top of the ice in the ice chest and drove home to California, arriving Monday night. This morning I cleaned them as they were wriggling around and then read different opinions on cleaning and cleaned again. Right now my potatoes and all are simmering til tender, the clams are chopped, reserving some to pan fry tomorrow , having picked your recipe to use to make my clam chowder. I did add a splash of pint grigio to it as u used chicken broth not having clam broth and it seemed to need it. Can’t wait to taste it as so far, while still simmering, it’s delicious !


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