I love New England style clam chowder. Warm and creamy soup with sweet, juicy clams, tender potatoes and heavy cream. So delish in the winter. If you're like me and want to serve it as a meal, here are the best 50 sandwiches and sides to serve with clam chowder!
Types Of Clam Chowder
There are two main types of chowder. Manhattan clam chowder is tomato based and New England clam chowder, aka Boston clam chowder, is cream based. Both include potatoes, bacon, celery and of course, clams. Either can be garnished with parsley or green onions. The side dishes below will pair well with both types of chowder but I like to choose a side that contrasts with the soup.
For the tomato-y Manhattan clam chowder, a creamy grilled cheese, salad with ranch dressing or a tuna melt go particularly well.
For the creamy Boston clam chowder, I would choose a tangier sandwich like the muffuletta, a salad with vinaigrette or a light seafood appetizer like shrimp cocktail.
Both soups pair equally well with the breads, crackers, fritters and fries.
The best New England clam chowder recipe is full of tender clams, cubed potatoes (russets or Yukon gold) and smoky bacon in a creamy broth of clam juice and heavy cream. These simple ingredients create a comforting soup with rich flavor. For another American classic creamy seafood soup, try oyster stew. It also pairs well with all the side dishes listed below.
Classic Clam Chowder Partners
- Sandwiches - Soup and a sandwich has always been a winner and chowder is no exception. Go luxe with a lobster roll or homestyle with a tuna melt or grilled cheese. Bright and tangy muffuletta sandwiches are a great side sandwich too.
- Bread - Every soup pairs well with some type of bread if there isn't a sandwich. A crusty bread bowl holding your New England chowder is always novel and delicious. Buttery bread rolls, a baguette, flaky biscuits or savory cornbread muffins are great for mopping up a bowl of chowder.
- Crackers - Oyster crackers provide a classic crunchy option as do saltines. For a light meal, crackers add the perfect crispy side dish to chowder and are fun to crumble into your creamy soup too.
- Salad - A classic Caesar salad, garden salad, tangy coleslaw, an all green cucumber salad or a full on chunky colorful salad are all refreshing great choices to have with a bowl of clam chowder.
- Fritters + Fries - Pub-style favorites, crispy fritters and French fries are tasty on the side and dipped into creamy chowder. Clam fritters, corn and crab fritters or mushroom fritters make perfect comfort food side dishes that are right at home with chowder and a (root) beer!
- More Seafood - New Englanders love their seafood as do most of us that love a good bowl of their namesake chowder. Serve up your seafood stew with shrimp cocktail, bacon-wrapped scallops, oysters on the half shell, garlic butter sauteed crab, mussels mariniere, or salmon patties. These are just a few ideas, get creative and make a seafood feast with your favorite seafood sides.
- Veggie Sides - Whether full on dinner or a formal lunch, some vegetables on the side are always welcome with this rich soup. Simple French style green beans, asparagus, a platter of crudités (veggies and dip), roasted broccoli or zucchini antipasti are all perfect side dishes for this hearty soup.
Toppings and Garnishes For Clam Chowder
Not just for looks, a great garnish adds fresh flavor and contrasting textures. Here are the best garnishes for clam chowder and a few unique ideas too!
- Lemon wedges are great served alongside so diners can add a squeeze of lemon juice to their soup.
- Fresh herbs like dill, parsley, chives, tarragon or chervil are all mild, complimentary flavors that look beautiful chopped and sprinkled over top.
- Croutons (I like seasoning mine with salt and garlic before roasting) are another great garnish that adds a little crunch on top. Chop them in small squares or cut a baguette on the diagonal before toasting and brushing with olive oil and a swipe of garlic.
- Fresh clams in their shells that have been steamed open are great. If you used fresh instead of canned clams to make your chowder, reserve a few in their shell to top the finished bowls of soup.
- Crispy bacon bits are a no-brainer. Cook extra when starting your soup and save a few tablespoons to sprinkle over the top of each serving.
- Deep fry a few cubes of potatoes for some crunchy potato croutons to add on top.
- Swirl a tablespoon of fresh heavy cream over top or whip the cream slightly so that it is thickened and spoon a dollop on top of each bowl.
Flavorful picnic sandwiches and grilled cheese sandwiches are all delicious partners for Boston or New England clam chowder. Check out all these super tasty sandwich variations!
Pickles + Condiments
Pickles are always a refreshing, crispy side to creamy chowder and sandwiches. Pick from all sorts of colorful pickles to brighten up your clam dinner. Or serve up a little bacon aioli to boost the savory flavor. Serve it smeared on croutons or dollop a little in your bowl.
Bread, Biscuits + Buns
Choosing one of these is almost essential to a great chowder meal. Choose from simple seasoned oyster crackers or saltines or whip up dinner rolls, biscuits, popovers or croutons to dip and swipe into every last bit of creamy soup.
Soup and salad is just about as classic as soup and a sandwich. In fact, why not pair a sandwich AND a salad with your Boston or Manhattan chowder?! Light and crisp salads work best but there are lots of delicious combinations to try.
Veggie Side Dishes
To round out your tasty clam chowder dinner, serve up a side of nutritious and delicious vegetables! Or serve the crispy potatoes as a garnish on top of steaming bowls of chowder.
For a luxurious seafood dinner, add a few of these tasty sides and create a coastal feast.
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More Seafood Soup Recipes
Grab a large pot and try one of these tasty seafood main dish soups on the next cold winter day!
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Cheers and happy cooking, Friends! Sabrina