That Spicy Chick

Kicked Up Creamy Clam Chowder

This Kicked Up Creamy Clam Chowder is hearty, satisfying, and extremely comforting! It’s rich and creamy without being too heavy, and it will completely warm you right up with its delicious smoky notes on cold days!

Two red soup bowls with clam chowder garnished with spring onion, crispy bacon, and cheddar jack cheese. Bowls are diagonally placed on ruffled white napkin.

As a kid, I always detested soup. I had somehow gotten the notion that it was “diet” food and only for people who wanted to lose weight. I also could never swallow the idea that soup could actually be a filling meal, nor did I believe that it could satiate my hunger for real food. You know, the real solid stuff that sits in your stomach for a good few hours before it growls and gnaws at your insides again. I seriously doubted a soup’s ability to keep me full and blacklisted soup of all kinds from my diet. 🙄

But maaaaaaan, was I wrong. 

I discovered the extent of my wrongness when I moved to Hong Kong several years ago courtesy of Outback Steakhouse and their delicious soups and their thick & creamy tasty clam chowder. 😋

Blue Dutch oven filled with Kicked Up Creamy Clam Chowder garnished with spring onion, crispy bacon, and cheddar jack cheese. Right side of dutch oven cut off from frame.

There’s a branch just a short ten minutes walk from my home and I used to frequent it several times a week when I was still in school. Not for the steaks, but for the daily changing soup of the day! I loved ALL of their creamy and rich broth-based soups.

Baked Potato Soup garnished with bacon bits, spring onion, and sharp cheddar made me squeal for joy on some days, and lip-smacking Cream of Chicken and Corn hit the spot for me on dreary rainy days. 😍 Their French Onion Soup was to die for with all that rich cheese covering the top of a bowl full of brown onion flavored hot broth with small chunks of bread squares soaking up all that onion-y goodness. Oh my, that onion soup was totally gorgeous and DROOLWORTHY! 🤤

Front view of blue Dutch oven filled with Kicked Up Creamy Clam Chowder garnished with spring onion, crispy bacon, and cheddar jack cheese. Right side of dutch oven cut off from frame and white soup serving spoon sticking out from the left side of the dutch oven.

This one time I was there, the soup of the day they were serving looked watery with waaaay too many vegetables for my liking. Similar to minestrone soup but it was a pea shade of green and did not look appealing what.so.ever. 😶 I perused their menu for something else and settled for the New England Clam Chowder, unknowing to the fact that after that day, I would become a full on raging clam chowder ADDICT! 😍

I loved every creamy, chunky, delicious clam filled bite of it the first time I tried it, and I continued to order it (along with my other favorite Outback Steakhouse soups) on a regular basis for several years. Outback became my go to place for clam chowder whenever the craving hit. 

Blue Dutch oven filled with Kicked Up Creamy Clam Chowder garnished with spring onion, crispy bacon, and cheddar jack cheese cut off from right top corner and on top of a flower patterned blue and white ruffled tablecloth. Two red soup bowls in front of the pot, with clam chowder and garnished with spring onion, crispy bacon, and cheddar jack cheese. Bowls are diagonally placed on ruffled white napkin. Silver soup spoon sticking out from the left side of the bowl in front.

Then two winters ago, the Hong Kong Outback Steakhouse branches came out with a new dining concept and completely different menus. They had axed my beloved Baked Potato Soup and French Onion Soup from the menu (oh, the nerve 😤). And, well let’s just say the quality of the soups wasn’t what it used to be. Not to mention that the price for a bowl of clam chowder had skyrocketed! 😬

So last winter, I did a bit of research and discovered it was ridiculously easy to make your own clam chowder at home. I created my own delicious version of New England style clam chowder that is just as good as Outback Steakhouse’s if not better in my honest humble opinion. This Kicked Up Creamy Clam Chowder is absolutely creamy, rich, loaded with veggies, and bang on BOOMING with flavors and textures! 👊 What’s more is that it’s totally bacon-licious because of my secret rockstar ingredient – BACON HOT SAUCE!! Yaaaass!! 💃

Overhead view of red soup bowl with Kicked Up Creamy Clam Chowder garnished with spring onion, crispy bacon strips, and cheddar jack cheese. Right side of bowl cut off from frame.

SPECIAL HOT SAUCE: BACON HOT SAUCE!

As you know from my Lightened-Up Indo-Chinese Chili Chicken post, I have a fetish for unique hot sauces. I’ve tried several different ones at Mexican restaurants here in Hong Kong and regularly shop for them wherever I go and online. Given my obsession with everything bacon, I just had to order this Bacon Hot Sauce when I came across it online.

It’s great in this Kicked Up Creamy Clam Chowder and compliments the smoked paprika really well to give the chowder a heavenly smoky flavor! 😍 Plus, it’s a terrific condiment for salads, pasta, meat skewers, and Game Day food like spicy chicken wings and mini pizza squares! I’d recommend it in a heartbeat to all bacon lovers out there! 👍👍

(By the way this isn’t a sponsored post. I just want to share the love I have for this fabulous condiment!)

Red soup bowl with Kicked Up Creamy Clam Chowder garnished with spring onion, crispy bacon strips, and cheddar jack cheese. Silver soup spoon to the right side of bowl.

And to all soup skeptics out there, trust me when I say that this Kicked Up Creamy Clam Chowder is properly filling! Thanks to the potatoes, celery, and carrots, you’ll be getting loads of nutrients and will feel properly warm on the inside as well as full, and 100% content after a bowl of this luscious stuff. 🥰 It’s great for cold winter days, but I love me a hearty bowl of this creamy, chunky, spicy and smoky clam chowder even on summer days!

Silver spoon holding up a bite of Kicked Up Creamy Clam Chowder garnished with spring onion, crispy bacon strips, and cheddar jack cheese above the red soup bowl filled with the clam chowder.

Top off your bowl with some fresh spring onion, crispy bacon, and Cheddar Jack cheese for some melty cheesy goodness. And enjoy with some crusty bread on the side! Add some more Tabasco and freshly cracked black pepper before you devour if your heart desires (mine TOTALLY does!). 😉

Lots of love,
Your Kicked Up Creamy Clam Chowder Addict. 🤗😍

Front view of silver spoon holding up a bite of Kicked Up Creamy Clam Chowder garnished with spring onion, crispy bacon strips, and cheddar jack cheese above the red soup bowl filled with the clam chowder. Carrots, potatoes visible in bowl below.
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Red soup bowl with Kicked Up Creamy Clam Chowder garnished with spring onion, crispy bacon strips, and cheddar jack cheese. Silver soup spoon to the right side of bowl.

Kicked Up Creamy Clam Chowder

This Kicked Up Creamy Clam Chowder is hearty, satisfying, and extremely comforting! It’s rich and creamy without being too heavy, and it will completely warm you right up with its delicious smoky notes on cold days! 

  • Author: Lavina
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 45
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 68 1x
  • Category: Soups & Chowders
  • Method: Simmer
  • Cuisine: American
Scale

Ingredients

  • 7 Garlic cloves – minced
  • 1 large Yellow Onion – diced
  • 2 Celery stalks – chopped small
  • 1 & ½ large Carrots – diced into cubes
  • 2 large Potatoes (I used Russet potatoes, but Yukon Gold work fabulously too) – diced into cubes
  • 4 slices Bacon (I used Oscar Mayer’s Naturally Hardwood Smoked Bacon) – chopped into thin strips
  • 5 TSP Black Pepper
  • 5 TSP Kosher salt, more or less to taste
  • 1 TSP Dried Thyme
  • 1 TSP Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, more or less to taste
  • 2 TSP ground Cayenne powder, more or less to taste
  • 1 TSP Smoked Paprika (Hot)
  • 2 TBLS Unsalted Butter
  • 2 TBLS All Purpose Flour 1 & ¼ cup Chicken Broth
  • 1 & ½ cup Whole Milk (plus 2 TBLS or more as required)
  • 400ml Cooking/Single Cream (20% fat)
  • 4 Bay Leaves
  • 11 & ¼ TBLS Tabasco Original Red Pepper Sauce
  • 1 (heaping) TSP Bacon Hot Sauce
  • 2 6.5oz/184g cans of Minced Clams in Clam Juice (I used Bumble Bee’s)

To Serve/Garnish:

  • 12 Spring Onions – chopped small
  • 1 tablespoon of grated Cheddar Jack cheese (or Sharp Cheddar) per bowl (I use Tillamook’s Farm Style Cut cheese that comes in a bag because it is SOOO GOOOD when it melts into the soup! You can also just use freshly grated Cheddar cheese.)

Instructions

Prep:

  1. Combine all the spices in a small bowl and set aside. Cover the bowl with cling wrap or a small plate to prevent the spices from being blown everywhere.
  2. Chop the garlic, onion, celery, carrots, potatoes, spring onion, and bacon. Set aside in individual bowls.
  3. Measure out your chicken broth, cooking cream, and whole milk in measuring cups.
  4. Set a strainer over a medium sized bowl and drain the minced clam cans. Reserve the juice and set both the clams in the strainer and clam juice aside.

For the Kicked Up Creamy Clam Chowder:

  1. Place a large stockpot or Dutch oven (cocotte) on your stove and set to medium-high heat. Let it heat up for a minute or so until hot, then add the bacon strips. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until brown and crispy but not burnt. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain once they are almost done. Set aside for the garnish.
  2. Add two tablespoons of unsalted butter to the pot with the bacon grease and let it heat up and melt. Once melted, add the onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes or until translucent.
  3. Add the carrots and celery and continue sautéing until tender.
  4. Season with the spices in the spice bowl you made earlier, and stir everything to combine until the spices are evenly distributed.
  5. Add the all purpose flour and bay leaves. Continue stirring and cooking to form a roux until flecks of white from the flour aren’t visible. Make sure the flour has properly integrated with the vegetables.
  6. Gradually pour in the clam juice, chicken stock, cooking cream, and whole milk while continuing to stir. Let simmer for a minute or two.
  7. Add the Tabasco, Bacon Hot Sauce, and potatoes and stir. Scrape the bottom of the pot to make sure nothing is sticking to it, then set the stove to medium heat and cover the pot with the lid.
  8. Let the soup come to a boil and simmer for 20-25 minutes, while uncovering the pot and stirring periodically every 8-10 minutes.
  9. During the last 12-15 minutes of simmering, add the clams and 2 TBLS milk (or more as required if the soup is too thick). Cover and let simmer.
  10. Remove the lid and stir the soup. Check to ensure the potatoes are tender and have cooked through by stabbing a piece with a knife or fork. If they have softened, switch off the stove and remove the pot from the heat. (If the potatoes need to cook a little longer, let the soup simmer uncovered for 5 minutes longer while stirring occasionally.)*
  11. To Serve/Garnish: Ladle out the soup in bowls and garnish with the chopped spring onion, bacon strips, and about a tablespoon of cheddar jack cheese for each bowl. Enjoy with your favorite type of crusty bread! And do add more Tabasco and black pepper on top of the soup if your heart wishes so (mine TOTALLY does! 😉)

Notes

  1. The time for simmering the soup will vary depending on the type of potatoes you use. For example, Yukon Gold potatoes will soften quicker than Russet potatoes. You’ll know the soup is done after about 20-25 minutes of simmering and once the potatoes are soft. But if your potatoes are not yet tender, you can cook for a few minutes longer until they have cooked through. Be careful not to cook too long though as the clams can overcook and become rubbery! It’s best to chop your potatoes into small cubes instead of dice them into large bite sized pieces. (Yes, I totally screwed up the very first time I made this clam chowder and had to eat bowl after bowl of creamy soup with rubbery clams since I don’t like to waste food. But I’ve perfected this Kicked Up Creamy Clam Chowder recipe since then and hence, why you’re getting in on this delicious chowdaa now! 🤗
  2. You can freeze this clam chowder for up to three months if desired. Freeze in a freezer safe container or bowls without the garnish. Thaw in the fridge overnight, reheat over the stovetop or in the microwave, then add the garnish as per normal.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 large bowl
  • Calories: 324
  • Sugar: 6.6g
  • Sodium: 656.2mg
  • Fat: 20.7g
  • Saturated Fat: 11.5g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 4.8g
  • Trans Fat: 0.5g
  • Carbohydrates: 25.3g
  • Fiber: 3.8g
  • Protein: 9.9g
  • Cholesterol: 26.6mg

Long Pin. Top Photo: Two red soup bowls with clam chowder garnished with spring onion, crispy bacon, and cheddar jack cheese. Bowls are diagonally placed on ruffled white napkin. Silver soup spoon sticking out from the left side of the bowl in front. Bottom Photo: Blue Dutch oven filled with Kicked Up Creamy Clam Chowder garnished with spring onion, crispy bacon, and cheddar jack cheese. Right side of dutch oven cut off from frame.

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