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Stews, Soups & Chili’s – The Series – Manhattan Clam Chowder

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    Stews, Soups & Chili’s – The Series – Manhattan Clam Chowder

    The series now turns to those delicious bowls of heavenly goodness known as soup. Soups are universally accepted as basic cuisine in all cultures because they not only satisfy the body but they also feed the soul. So for all you "chow-dah" heads out there I wanted to begin with that other chowder known as Manhattan Clam Chowder. It seems we’ve had a lot of postings praising that delicious and popularized version known as the New England style with its rich and creamy flavor profiles. And like many of you I’ll have to admit that it’s probably my favorite as well. But for a change of pace, let’s take a look at and cook an alternative.

    True chowder heads are loyal to their style. So what’s the real difference? Essentially it boils down to cooking in a cream based version (New England) or the use of a thinner tomato based style (Manhattan). All chowders have their roots in middle age Europe where they were considered poor man’s food. Traditionally they were cooked in calderia using vegetables and some form of seafood plentiful to the seafaring nations.

    Although chowders can and were made from a variety of the seafood available, clam chowder specifically was a seasonal type when obviously clams were in available. Chowders of various kinds can be traced back as far at the 17th century were they would layer pork, onions, available varieties of fish topped with biscuits and cooked down to a stew like soup. As chowders grew in popularity along coastal areas, they morphed into a variety of types using ingredients that were either seasonal or available. Many are strictly seafood based while others are as simple as corn.

    Even though New England may claim theirs as most popular there are chowder examples from Maine to California to as far south as Mexico and over into parts of Africa. That then makes these types of soups among the most popular types certainly in this hemisphere if not the Western world.

    Again we’ve championed the New England version, let’s switch gears and try the tomato based style known as Manhattan (which by the way has nothing to do with the island borough of New York but originated in Rhode Island instead).

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    Manhattan Clam Chowder

    Course. Lunch or Dinner.
    Cuisine. American - Northeast
    Makes. 4 to 6 servings
    Takes. Stew: 45 minutes’ prep and 60 minutes’ cooking time.

    *Note: I always endorse buying fresh over frozen or canned clams. This recipe calls for canned clams which for ease of preparation and overall result are not a bad substitute. That said, 20-30 fresh little neck or cherrystone clams can be used in place of the canned for arguably fresher and better results.


    3 – 10 ounce cans baby clams with reserved broth (chopped clams work equally as well)
    3 to 4 strips bacon cut into 1/2" lardons
    1 - whole medium onion diced
    3-4 cloves garlic minced
    3 – green onions chopped
    2- medium carrots cut uniform into 1/2” pieces
    2 - stalks celery cut uniform into 1/2" pieces
    6 - medium gold or white potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2" pieces (about 3 cups)
    3 - cups organic chicken bone broth, preferably no salt homemade

    1 - can Muir Glen diced fire roasted tomatoes (14.5-ounce)

    2 –tablespoons Tony Chacheres seasoning (or Kosher salt & black pepper)
    1 - teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    1 – teaspoon fresh thyme
    2 – tablespoons tomato paste
    3 – tablespoons AP flour

    For Garnish:

    Oyster crackers
    Reserved chopped green onions
    Chopped parsley or cilantro

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    Drain the cans of baby clams reserving the liquor. Rinse the clams and refrigerate.

    Begin by cooking the bacon in a cast iron soup pot or Dutch oven until browned and the fat rendered. Add to that the onion letting them sweat down and season with Tony C’s. After about 5 minutes, add the garlic and continue cooking until fragrant.

    Add in the tomato paste and continue to cook for a couple of minutes until mixture is uniform. Add to that the flour continuing to stir into a thickened paste for a few minutes longer. To this roux pour in the reserved clam juice and chicken broth scrapping any material on the bottom of the pot and incorporating.

    Next stir in the carrots, celery, 2/3rds of the green onions, clams, and the can of tomatoes. Bring the soup to a boil then simmer for about 20 minutes. Add Tony C’s to taste.

    Finally add the diced potatoes. Continue to cook for an additional 20 minutes or until the potatoes are firm but not mushy. Season with the thyme, red pepper flakes and remaining Tony C’s.


    In bowls, garnishing with chopped green onions and parsley. Serve with crusty bread, a few oyster crackers and a good cabernet.

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    Enjoy this alternative chowder that will not disappoint. I also urge you to continue to explore alternatives within the chowder family to experience new and delicious flavor profiles. Now that winter is here, grab a hot bowl and hunker down on a snowy afternoon!!

    Until next time Troutman, trying to keep warm, is outta here !!!

    Thanks Steve. I have threatened to make a Manhattan style. You re correct about branching out some, I have made a chicken and corn, shrimp and corn, and a smoke salmon style chowder.


    • Troutman
      Troutman commented
      Editing a comment
      Shrimp and corn is outstanding !!

    Boo! Hiss!


    • Troutman
      Troutman commented
      Editing a comment
      Knowing that Manhattan style is a product of Rhode Island, that puts it's a stone's throw away from you right? Does that help a little?

      (plus doing a NE style would have been redundant)

    • Old Glory
      Old Glory commented
      Editing a comment
      Troutman I have actually never tried it. Yours's looks very tasty. I would not turn it down!

    Manhattan Clam Chowder, Thank you so much. Good stuff.


      Nice write up. I’ve enjoyed the various posts with the info. Thanks for taking the time to continue to do this!

      and, I could use a bowl of this stuff right now! I’m a frozen popsicle after going out for a bike ride late this afternoon 🥶


        Nicely done as always. I true pro.



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