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Taste test: New England clam chowder



One of our panelists recently took a trip to New England and sampled some delicious clam chowder. The cream-based soup is generally made with clams, potatoes and onions and cooked to a thick soup perfect for a cold night or a summer sunset when the ocean waves bring on a breeze. Our judges wanted to know if they could duplicate the New England specialty at home in the South — even without the evening cool-down. We sipped six brands of canned soup and found a couple that might work as starters for a scrumptious seafood supper. We warmed all seven on the stove.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent


(out of 100)
Publix 45Progresso Traditional 42Trader Joe's 33

The store brand of soup had nice bits of herbs and fillings, but it was lighter in texture. Judges appreciated the thinner base of the soup, saying they would add more cream, more clams and more onions to give it a bulkier weight and richer flavor. "It's a good clam chowder for beginners," said one judge. "I like that it's not heavy on clam taste," said another, adding that she prefers the clam flavor to be subtle.This familiar soupmaker provided a creamy and rich chowder with chunks of clam and potatoes. Tasters were pleased with the plentiful herbs and blend of flavors in Progresso's offering. "I think it's delicious and could be even better with more cream and maybe extra red potatoes," said one. Another said he could even do with fewer clams in the chowder.Big chunks of clams made up for the slightly unusual look of this soup. Judges described it as kind of "gelatinous." But the taste made up for the appearance. "I even had a piece of clam shell in one bite," said one judge, adding, "I would enjoy a big bowl of this on a rainy day."


they buy?
Two of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.One of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$2 for an 18.5-ounce can.$1.99 for an 18.5-ounce can from Target.$1.69 for a 15-ounce can.

Also Sampled: Bumble Bee ($1.44 for a 15-ounce can from Walmart, 31 points); Campbell's Chunky ($1.44 for an 18.8-ounce can from Walmart, 29 points); Campbell's Slow Kettle Style ($2.98 for a 15.5-ounce can from Walmart, 27 points); and Wolfgang Puck ($2.89 for a 14.5-ounce can from Winn-Dixie, 15 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian; John Hehn, foodie and owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design; Janet Keeler, assistant professor of journalism at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg; and Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620 in St. Petersburg. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Serving sizeOne cupOne cupHalf cup
Fat/Fiber8g / 1g8g / 1g2g / 0g
Sugars/Sodium2g / 800mg2g / 890mg0g / 600mg
Carbs/Protein19g / 4g20g / 6g11g / 5g

Taste test: New England clam chowder 05/09/16 [Last modified: Monday, May 9, 2016 1:50pm]
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