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Pismo Beach Style Clam Chowder

PISMO BEACH STYLE CLAM CHOWDERPismo Beach Style Rich and Creamy Clam Chowder

2009, Dana Calicchio 


This is a rich and creamy clam chowder like the ones we used to get in Pismo Beach. 

They take their chowder seriously there and have annual chowder championships. 

This is a take on our favorite from Splash, a great little place that serves the chowder in a fresh Sourdough Bread Bowl that has had its top cut off, buttered and grilled, then the inside of the bread is scooped out to make room for the chowder, ensuring no holes to outside of bowl so chowder doesn't leak out. Then they give you a choice of topping the chowder with shredded imitation crab meat and/or small cooked shrimp. It is to die for! My daughter doesn't like soup, but she loves Clam Chowder like this. 


4 Tbs. unsalted butter 

2 Tbs. Olive Oil 

1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced 

3 celery stalks, diced 

2 small carrots diced 

3 slices of cooked bacon chopped 

1 yellow onion, diced 

russet potato peeled and diced 

1  8oz. bottle clam juice 

2 bay leaves 


1 quart heavy cream 

3 cups whole milk 

1 Tbs. chicken base 

1 Tbs. Salt  Or more to taste 

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper 

3  10 oz.cans clams with juice drained and reserve 

1 lb fresh littleneck clams 

1/2 cup Cornstarch mixed with 1/2 cup whole milk 

1 Lb. cooked small shrimp 

½ Pound imitation crab meat shredded 





  • In a Large Dutch oven, heat up olive oil and butter.  
  • Add Bell pepper, celery, carrots, onion, potato, and bacon bits.  
  • Sauté until potatoes and onion are soft.  
  • Add all clam juice, bay leaves, Chicken Base and lower heat to a slight simmer for 5 minutes after adding all clam juice from bottle and cans. 
  • Wash clams and then Add clams, fresh and canned. Cover for 3 to 5 minutes or until fresh clams open up. Remove fresh and set aside until ready to serve  
  • Lower heat to low heat and add milk and heavy cream. Stir occasionally making sure chowder does not boil or cream curdle.  
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.  
  • Whisk in cornstarch mixture to thicken chowder.  
  • Add clams back into chowder and stir well.   
  • Serve in grilled and buttered sourdough bowls with small cooked shrimp and shredded imitation crab meat on top.