PEI-Style Smoky Clam Chowder

Finnan haddie, or cold-smoked cured haddock, gives this brothy chowder a deep, clean, smoky foundation that highlights sweet clams without overwhelming them. Using a mixture of lightly mashed potatoes and half-and-half to thicken and enrich the soup gives it a silky, but not heavy, texture.

PEI Style Smoky Clam Chowder Recipe
Photo: Graydon Herriott
Active Time:
1 hrs 20 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 30 mins


  • 4 ounces thinly sliced salt pork, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)

  • 3 cups water

  • 8 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 2 medium-size yellow onions, finely chopped (about 4 cups)

  • 6 medium celery stalks, trimmed and finely chopped (about 2 cups)

  • 2 teaspoons black pepper

  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds

  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 3 medium potatoes), cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 4 1/2 cups)

  • 3 cups half-and-half

  • 8 ounces skinless Finnan haddie (cold-smoked cured haddock) fillets (about 2 fillets), cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish


  1. Cook salt pork in a large Dutch oven over medium, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pork to a paper towel–lined plate; set aside. Wipe Dutch oven clean; discard drippings or reserve for another use.

  2. Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a covered large, high-sided skillet over medium-high. Add clams; cook, covered, shaking skillet occasionally, until clams open, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat. Using a slotted spoon or a spider, remove clams from cooking liquid. Discard any clams that did not open. Ladle 4 cups clam cooking liquid into a measuring cup; discard any sediment and additional liquid in skillet. If desired, reserve 30 clams in shell for garnish; cover and chill until ready to serve, up to 4 hours. Shuck remaining clams; discard shells. Chop clam meat into 1/3-inch pieces; set aside. (If not using the 30 clams in shell for garnish, shuck and chop all clams.)

  3. Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium. Add onions and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 15 minutes. Stir in black pepper, thyme, and celery seeds.

  4. Add potatoes and reserved 4 cups clam cooking liquid to onion mixture in Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer 3 cups potatoes to a bowl (leaving cooking liquid in Dutch oven); mash using a potato masher until mostly smooth. Stir mashed potato mixture into remaining mixture in Dutch oven.

  5. Stir half-and-half into mixture in Dutch oven; cook over medium-low, stirring occasionally, until just hot (do not boil), about 5 minutes. Stir in Finnan haddie, salt pork, and chopped clam meat; cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

  6. If garnishing bowls with reserved clams in shells, place 5 clams in each of 6 shallow serving bowls. Ladle about 2 cups chowder into each bowl. Garnish with parsley.


Finnan haddie may be purchased online at

Suggested Pairing

Medium-bodied, bright Oregon Pinot Gris.

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