Posted by: timscooking | April 12, 2010

Ham Chowder

Many folks have ham as part of their Easter Sunday dinner and enjoy ham sandwiches, ham and eggs, and ham salad with the leftovers, but usually by Wednesday the ham is looking pretty worked over. For years, our family has used that last bit of ham to make this rather untraditional chowder. Nowhere in my research do you find ham chowder listed as a variation.

Chowders are ubiquitous on the east coast from Maine to Maryland. The ingredients will include some type of seafood, clams being the most common, potatoes, onions, celery and bay leaf for seasoning, and either milk or cream. New Englanders take their chowders pretty seriously. Each state or region has a name for its chowder and names to distinguish other recipes from their own. The state of Maine even has gone to the extreme of passing legislation that tomatoes are prohibited from Maine chowder and in Rhode Island, chowder must be clear (no cream or milk).

This particular chowder using ham has been in our family for at least 50 years.  I’m not sure exactly where it originated but I believe it came from one of the local newspaper food sections.  My mom passed the recipe down to my wife when we married and since then, it is on the list of most requested by our daughters when they know there is a leftover ham in the house. The recipe card is a testament to its popularity as it is dog-eared, yellowed and chowder-stained. Try this once and I guarantee that you’ll be adding this to your file of old family favorites.


2 tbsp. butter or margarine

1 c. chopped onion

1 c. chopped celery

1 clove garlic, minced

2 c. diced ham ( 1 lb.)

2 c. diced raw potato

1 bay leaf

3/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. thyme

1/2 tsp. red pepper sauce

2 c. water

2 c. milk or half and half

28 oz. can whole peeled or diced tomatoes

Melt butter in 7 qt. sauce pan. Add onion, celery, garlic, and ham. Sauté until onion is transparent.

Add potatoes, bay leaf, salt, thyme, red pepper sauce, and water. Bring to a boil, and then simmer covered 20 to 30 minutes until potatoes are tender.

Add milk, diced or hand crush whole tomatoes. Heat through. Do Not Boil!

Serve with crusty bread or rolls. Pass additional hot sauce. Makes about 2 quarts.

Serves four to six.



  1. Hands down one of the best family traditions! YUMO!

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