Clam Chowder Lightened Up

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This lighter Clam Chowder, full of canned clams, potatoes, and corn, is still creamy but with less fat than most other versions.

This lighter Clam Chowder, full of canned clams, potatoes, and corn, is still creamy but with less fat than most other versions.

This thick and creamy chowder is lighter and healthier than most traditional clam chowders. For some other chowder recipes, try my Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Chowder, Smoked Salmon Chowder, and Cheddar Corn Chowder with Bacon.

This lighter Clam Chowder, full of canned clams, potatoes, and corn, is still creamy but with less fat than most other versions.

New England style chowder is creamy, and is usually high in fat and calories like you can see in the Bon Appetit recipe, which has over 700 calories per serving. Bacon, heavy cream and potatoes all come into play. My chowder recipe is much lighter, made with 2% milk instead of cream which reduces the calories significantly. I also blend half of the soup in a blender, which helps thicken it giving it a creamy consistency without adding cream. I also skip the bacon, but you can certainly add some if you wish.

It’s delicious served with oyster crackers or a slice of crusty bread. You could also serve it with a simple mixed green salad, this Green Bean Salad, or Wilted Baby Spinach.

What kind of clams are used for clam chowder?

I live on the bay, so naturally we have lots of clams around. But shucking clams to make soup is quite a bit of work, so using canned clams are usually my preferred choice when I want to whip up a quick meal. To make this soup quick and easy, I used canned clams in my clam chowder. While you can use fresh clams if you’re lucky to live neat the coast, canned clams are just so much easier and affordable. I also use the juice from the cans to season the soup.

How do you make clam chowder from scratch?

Making canned clam chowder from scratch is pretty easy.

  1. Melt the butter and cook the onions until translucent. Stir in the flour.
  2. Add milk, vegetable broth, clam juice, potatoes, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes until the potatoes are soft.
  3. Put half of the soup in the blender and blend until smooth. Return the soup to the pot.
  4. Add the clams and corn to the soup and more salt if needed, and then cook for five more minutes.
  5. Serve the soup and garnish with parsley. Enjoy!

Puree half the soup in a blender to make it thickPouring chowder into pot from blenderThis lighter Clam Chowder, full of canned clams, potatoes, and corn, is still creamy but with less fat than most other versions.

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This lighter Clam Chowder, full of canned clams, potatoes, and corn, is still creamy but with less fat than most other versions.
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4.36 from 17 votes
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Clam Chowder, Lightened Up

5
7
4
SP
209 Cals 16 Protein 23.5 Carbs 6 Fats
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Yield: 8 servings
COURSE: Dinner, Soup
CUISINE: American
This lighter Clam Chowder, full of canned clams, potatoes, and corn, is still creamy but with less fat than most other versions.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 large white onion, chopped fine
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed small
  • 3 cups 2% milk
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 10 oz cans clams, drained, juice reserved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • kosher salt and fresh pepper
  • 1 cup fresh corn
  • oyster crackers, optional for serving

Instructions

  • In a large pot, melt butter. Add onions, and heat on low heat until onions are translucent, 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Add flour and stir 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add the milk, vegetable broth, reserved clam juice, potatoes, bay leaf, thyme and salt & pepper to taste.
  • Bring to a boil, then cover and cook on low until potatoes are soft, about 10 minutes.
  • Remove half of the soup and discard bay leaves, put soup in blender and blend until smooth. Return to pot.
  • Add clams, corn and adjust salt if needed and cook another 5 minutes.
  • Serve and garnish with fresh parsley.

Nutrition

Serving: 11/4 cups, Calories: 209kcal, Carbohydrates: 23.5g, Protein: 16g, Fat: 6g, Sodium: 209.5mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 6g
Blue Smart Points: 5
Green Smart Points: 7
Purple Smart Points: 4
Points +: 5
Keywords: chowder, clam chowder, soup recipe

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112 comments

  1. yes it was very good

  2. This recipe was awesome! I used chicken stock because it’s what we had on hand, 3 potatoes to beef it up a little, and whole milk + some cream. Flavors were great! I’m from the east coast and was missing clam chowder – I’ve never tried to make it myself before and was pleasantly surprised by how easy it is!!

  3. Love your recipes. It would be helpful to know the serving size – 3/4 cup, 1 cup etc., especially for soups/stews.

  4. I usually love all the skinny taste recipes but not this one, I’m not sure why? It could have been me and my cooking? 

  5. I only had 2 6.5 cans of clams and 1 russet potato so I used 1/2 an onion, 1 1/2 cups milk, and 1/2 tsp thyme…left butter, flour, veg broth and corn the same. I did add some sliced celery. This was delicious! I was surprised how rich and creamy it was. A definite winner, thank you for the recipe!

  6. Yum! Used this recipe to create a seafood chowder with clams, scallops and shrimp. Sautéed onion and celery in water to reduce fat and subbed non-dairy milk due to allergies. A hand whizzer worked great to thicken the soup. Also added a little Old Bay seasoning. This will definitely replace the high calorie, high fat version we usually make at Christmas. Thanks! 

  7. How many ounces of potatoes do you use? Thanks

  8. Do you blend the potatoes with the soup??

  9. Delicious and light! Will definitely make again!

  10. Excellent recipe for clam chowder! Be sure and blend half the recipe as this gives it a lot of it’s creaminess. It has a wonderful smooth taste. We ate ours with saltine crackers for a crunchy addition. Highly recommend!

  11. Clams are crazy expensive in my area. I ended up purchasing half the clams this recipe calls for, and then added a few drops of fish sauce, to taste, as compensation. It’s FANTASTIC!!!

  12. I love this! It’s tasty and the texture is still really thick and creamy but so much healthier!

  13. I made this tonight and it was great! I used Italian seasoning instead of Thyme because we like those flavors more. I also doubled the corn (two ears made two cups) and used my stick blender so I didn’t have to deal with transferring hot soup. My whole family loved it! Thanks for the great recipe!

  14. My husband and I love Clam Chowder.  He was reluctant to try this recipe because it was ‘healthy’ lol.  Now its his favorite!  Asks for it at least once a month, all year long.  Thank you Gina for all your healthy recipes!!

  15. Wow!! Doesn’t even taste lightened up!! Amazing recipe! Wouldn’t expect anything else! Did add celery per other suggestions!

  16. This was fantastic. I made a few modifications:
    – used 4 6.5oz cans of clams (with about 2c of juice)
    – left out broth
    – used half potatoes 
    – added ½ head cauliflower 
    – subbed 1c milk with cream 
    – no corn
    – added ¼ cup bacon bits 
    – added 2tsp garlic better than bullion
    – used immersion blender to make it super creamy with the cauliflower 

  17. I wonder if the cauliflower trick you used in the cheeseburger soup would work in this too to replace some of the milk and get that thick texture. I might have to try that. I have leftover mussels from dinner tonight😁

  18. I love clam chowder (and chicken pot pie) but the one ingredient they have in common are potatoes, which I don’t really think do either of them much favor. I wonder if there is a way to cut that ingredient way down and maybe increasing the main ingredient to make up for it (clams (or chicken)). I think at least for the pie I prefer to sub frozen white mini onions and other veggies but cannot think how to do a substitute for the soup.

  19. Do the calculated points include the Oyster Crackers (since they are optional)? Thank you!!!

  20. Is it possible to freeze this chowder?

  21. What if you are allergic to clams and shellfish? Can you sub another canned fish like salmon?

    • Uh — this is Clam Soup. If you want to use another fish, find a soup recipe that uses that fish.

    • I have made a similar soup using fresh salmon and it is delicious. You can just cook it whole in the soup until done and flake it apart. I top it with fresh basil, but parsley works, too!

    • I would look up fish chowder recipes and then use whatever fish that recipe says as a substitute.

  22. How necessary is the corn? This sounds amazing, but I can’t eat corn. It doesn’t like me.

    BTW – Your recipes are all go-tos for me. Thank you for all you do and keep up the good work!

    • Most New England Clam Chowder recipes I have made don’t call for corn. Celery is usually used though so try subbing corn for celery or just leave it out if you don’t have either..

  23. When do you add the reserved clam juice and how much do you add?

    • Direction #3- Add the milk, vegetable broth, reserved clam juice, potatoes, bay leaf, thyme and salt & pepper to taste. 🙂

  24. Hey this is completely unrelated, but when you save a recipe, where do they get saved? Thank you very much!!

  25. I have everything for this recipe except russet potatoes, plus we are trying to go low carb. Do you think sweet potatoes would work here? I mean I know they are a very different taste, but I’m curious.

  26. This soup was amazing!! I too made a few alterations to the recipe. I used Better Than Bouillon Veggie with Roasted Garlic with White Wine rather than water, added the carrots and celery, used the Old Bay seasoning and an extra 6.5 oz can of clams. I want to make it again today, so good!!

  27. I have made this recipe many times and it is delicious. We have a home on the Oregon Coast and I make this chowder with fresh razor clams. I use 1 1/2 t of Old Bay Seasoning instead of the thyme and pepper. When I blend half of the soup, I actually do include the bay leaves and they just blend in with the other ingredients! It freezes beautifully!

  28. This soup is SOOO good. I read some of the reviews before making it and opted to add some sliced carrots and celery (cut down the middle, about 3 stalks). I am glad I did. I didn’t think that the soup lacked any flavor whatsoever. It’s a little thinner than restaurant style, but for the calorie count, it is fantastic! I’m making it again tonight. 

  29. I made this and we didn’t like it. I used frozen corn and it was too sweet. It needs some more spices or something.

  30. Does the recipe change if I use frozen corn? Making this tonight and have frozen in the freezer. 

  31. What would the point value be with the freestyle pts?

  32. Outstanding, I am a retired fire Captain and have had several firehouse. Clam chowders. This is by far the best I have ever had. The only thing I changed was I added three ribs of celery and one carrot. Thank you for sharing. 

  33.  I would like to make a Dairy free clam chowder and was wondering what I should use? I would also like to use real clams is that possible?  I run a  cooking class for senior college and plan to make three different chowders .

  34. Fun fact: if you don’t leave the clams out before you blend, the whole thing turns green 😆

  35. First time making Clam Chowder.  It was pretty good. I added some celery to It because I wanted to use them up. I also had some half and half (fat free) left over from another recipe and wanted to use up as well. So I used 1-1/4 half and half and rest 1% milk. Didn’t have 2%. I thought it was better than some restaurants I’ve eaten at. Thank you. ????

  36. Can you use instant pot for this recipe? I just bought one and can’t wait to use it! 

  37. Fantastic!
    A friend of mine just came back from the Maritimes and brought back fresh clam in a jar… I assume I can use those instead of cans?

  38. Can you freezer leftovers?

  39. Hi Gina

    I have lost over 70 pounds. Your website has be invaluable. My husband lost 15 pounds without even trying! All I did was start using your recipes for dinner. Thank you so much for your help. I have both of your cookbooks and my dream is to cook my way through both of them.

  40. I just made this recipe for the first time and it is really good! Gina, what size clams do you usually use? I used whole canned clams because that was all th store had, and they seem a bit too big. I also wish I would have read these comments first because I totally put the bay leaf into the blender ? Also, how many days s good in the fridge? Thanks for all your amazing recipes, they are the only ones I use!

  41. This may be a stupid question but, you don’t put the bay leaf int he blender, do you?

  42. Perfect for a rainy evening!  I added 3 pieces of precooked bacon to give it a little extra flavor and well…..bacon!  Took it out and discarded.    It was delicious.  Lessened the thyme as it’s not a favorite in my family.   Will definitely make it again!

  43. My family loved it! We didn’t miss the fat at all. It was especially a hit with my pescatarian daughter. We served it in bread bowls like they do at Panera. Thank you for the recipe!

  44. Pingback: Soups & Broth | Pearltrees

  45. Great recipe! I added a 12 oz pkg of Oceankist baby clam meat and celery. I really didn’t need to blend the chowder, just mashed the potatoes some. Delicious!!!!

  46. Great recipe! I added a 12 oz pkg of Oceankist baby clam meat and celery. I really didn’t need to blend the chowder, just mashed the potatoes some. Delicious!!!!

  47. Dear Gina,
    How many ounces is in a medium russet potato?
    Thanks,
    Marsha

  48. This is so good!!! Thank you!!!

  49. When is says to remove half of the soup and bay leaves, does that include the potatoes as well? I am making this tonight i am SO EXCITED!!! My family loves clam chowder i was so glad i found a less fattening recipe!

  50. This was outstanding! I had made clam chowder years ago and never made it again because I remembered it being expensive, fatty and labor intensive. This was none of those and delicious. Thanks! P.S….I love that I can google skinny such and such and most always end up here. 🙂

  51. If I leave out the corn, how many calories will there be then?

  52. Made this tonight for me and my "picky" husband. We LOVED it! It was easy to make and you really don't miss all that extra cream from the high-fat versions. Very, very good. Thank you!

  53. Love your website and most of the recipies on here but this one had just a bit to much thyme for my taste but i am just going to have to make it again with out it. Other then the thyme it was really good. 🙂

  54. If I do this as just a fish chowder- thinking shrimp and cod-should I still use the clam juice for flavor- or just broth? I guess I could add a few clams but I want it to basically be a fish chowder.

  55. I mix about 1 tbsp cornstarch with some water and gradually add it after you puree half the soup… you can add as much or as little as you want.

  56. When should I add in the cornstarch? I also like mine very thick…

  57. Absolutely loved this recipe and made a few changes. I added 2 stalks of celery and two carrots along with the potatoes to bulk up the veggies. I added fresh scallops, prawns and halibut as well since I love seafood. Added some dill and a teaspoon of cornstarch since I like my chowder really thick. Turned out amazing. I'm never letting go of this little gem, Thanks Sooo much Gina. You're a genius and I'm a huge fan <3

  58. Can you use fresh clams? If so then how do get the clam juice needed? Never made chowder and BF really loves and I would like to make.

    Thank you
    Bev

  59. This is an answer to my prayers. We love clam chowder but the calories are too many. I did make some more WW modifications to mine and doubled the recipe since we have a family of six. Very tasty and my children enjoy it better than the canned version.

  60. This was AMAZING! Even hubs loved it! 🙂 THANK YOU!!!

  61. thanks

  62. Just made this chowder tonight, and it was amazing! I didn't miss the heavy cream one bit. Your blog has made losing weight SO.MUCH.EASIER !! Thank you!

  63. Your recipes are so amazing. I cook for my boyfriend and me and he doesn't like "diet" food. With all of your recipes, I never have to tell him dinner is good for him!

  64. I was looking for a salmon chowder recipe, do you think I can omit the clams and add canned salmon?

  65. I only have chicken broth? can i use that instead of vegetable broth?

  66. I've always made it with milk, and use a little bit of flour to thicken it instead of blending (I love my soup super chunky) and always add extra clams. I also use dill and a little liquid smoke, soooo good. I love clam chowder!!

  67. Do you have a recipe for chicken chowder? I've had one before that was really good with chicken, corn, and mushrooms. I'm sure it was a lot of calories though. I'd love a skinny recipe for it.

  68. Just made this- LOVE it!!!! Cant wait for my husband to get home and give it a try. Thank you Gina.

  69. Very good. I doubled the recipe and used half crab and half clams. I used soy butter and soy milk (dairy allergy) and used the emulsion blender to blend, but still leave some chunky. At first it had too much thyme for my taste, but I added some garlic salt and it's perfect now. Wouldn't change a thing next time 🙂

  70. Thanks Susan!

  71. Gina, This soup is the best! My husband and son thought it came from a high end restaurant! Thank you Gina for making my life full of healthy, DELISH food! Susan

  72. Sure! I would use real crab, not imitation.

  73. This looks delicious. However, my grandmother (with whom I live) really dislikes clams. Do you think it would taste as good with crab, or even imitation crab?

  74. Yes, points are the same.

  75. What about using fresh diced clams from the deli instead of canned? Are the points the same?

  76. Hi Gina, I just have a question that is not really about this soup. Do you have a good recipe for chicken spagetti casserole that uses spagetti noodles, cream of chicken soup, velveeta, onion and bell pepper, etc. It is my favorite dish and I cant find a really good one that is low enough in calories. My email is lpatt39459@aol.com. Also, congratulations on your beautiful daughter. Mine daughter is already 5, soon to be 6 and it seems like yesterday that she was born. Thanks for any help you can give.

  77. Shrimp would be great. Substitute it with 20 oz of shrimp. Points would remain the same.

  78. Has anyone tried this with shrimp? If so, do you know if it would change the points?

  79. Could I substitute shrimp instead of the clams. And how much shrimp would I need to use? How would it affect the points?

  80. Gina, I just had my second child 4 months ago and have been looking to lose the extra 20 pounds or so of baby weight. I love food so I figured I was just stuck with a few extra "mom" pounds because I know I will not give up something I love to do (EAT!) just to go down 2 jean sizes. Your blog has given me the motivation to do Weight Watchers because with recipes like this I'm sure I can get it done! LOVE your site, I'm going to share it with both of my moms groups!

  81. I love that this uses the potatoes as a thickener rather than cream. It sounds like a great recipe!

  82. Wow, that is very impressive! Keep up the great work and happy you like everything!

  83. Gina, I have been using your website for WW recipes for the last 8 months. Every dish I've made has been amazing! Thanks you, thank you, thank you! I wouldn't have been able to lose my 68 lbs without you!

  84. comforting specially during cold rainy evenings…

  85. This sounds amazing! Great way to enjoy clam chowder without all the guilt! Thanks! Can't wait to try it.

  86. I just love a nice bowl of chow-dah!

  87. My husband LOVES clam chowder, and now that I have this recipe that is lower in fat – I can make it for him with less guilt.

    Good one!

  88. Gina-

    I love your blog and have made several of your recipes so far. I have been looking for a good WW recipe for clam chowder…so this is perfect timing!

  89. I am definitely going to try this chowder…always crave it, but the calories/points always scare me away! I'll let you know how my family and I like it! Thanks

  90. Oh, this is perfect. My son absolutely loves clam chowder & I resist making it due to fat/calorie content!