According to food historian and blogger Janet Clarkson, the very first printed recipe for chowder appeared in the Boston Evening Post in 1751. Written as a poem, it described a stew with onions, pork, fish, herbs, and biscuits (hardtack, I think).
Manhattan Clam Chowder vs. New England Chowder
Over the years "chowdah" evolved into a dairy-based stew in New England, and during the late 1800s, the first tomato-based chowders showed up on the menu at Delmonico's in New York, perhaps influenced by Portuguese immigrants who often put clams together with pork and tomato sauce.
If you are used to thick (or thin) cream-based, cracker-riddled, white clam chowder, this Manhattan clam chowder is a completely different beast. Not even remotely like the New England favorite.
How to Customize This Clam Chowder Recipe
But, it's good in its own right, especially if you love tomatoes and clams. You can make it as brothy or thick as you like. In our case, we're taking a little shortcut with the recipe by using canned clams for much of the clam component of the soup.
Living here in California, we don't have as easy (or cheap) access to quahogs or chowder clams as they do on the eastern shore.
I originally had this soup in mind for Lent, and then remembered that it starts with bacon. It would still make an excellent soup for a Lenten fast, just skip the bacon and add more olive oil to start.
Tips for Buying Clams
Fresh clams: Buy the freshest live clams you can find and make sure the shells are tightly closed. For this Manhattan chowder recipe, you'll need hard clams. Any of these varieties will do.
- Quahogs (also known as Chowderhogs)
Canned clams: Buy any brand of canned clams for this recipe, but make sure you don't accidentally grab smoked clams.
To clean clams of sand and dirt, soak them for 30 minutes in a bowl of cool, salted water. Cook them immediately or store them in a bowl covered with a wet towel, and keep them refrigerated for no longer than 24 hours.
When preparing clams, tap any opened clams on the counter. If they close up, they're safe to eat. If they don't, toss them. Toss any broken clams, also.
How to Make This With Only Canned Clams
If you don't have access to fresh clams, use all canned clams in this chowder. Don't increase the number of canned clams. Know the flavor may change a bit because the fresh clams in their shells impart additional flavor.
More Seafood Stew Recipes You’ll Love
- Provencal Seafood Bisque
- Brothy Clams With Chorizo, Tomatoes, and Grilled Bread
- Oyster Stew
Manhattan Clam Chowder
This recipe calls for both fresh and canned clams. If you have an ample supply of quahog chowder clams, feel free to use them in place of the canned clams called for in this recipe—in addition to the other fresh clams in the ingredients.
To replace canned clams with fresh quahogs, scrub and clean a dozen or more quahogs. Place the clams in a small pot and add 2 cups of water. Bring water to a boil. Cover the pot and steam the clams until they are completely open, about 10 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove the clams from the pot and set them aside. Strain the clam steaming liquid through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth to catch any grit, reserving the liquid. Remove the clams from the shells, chop. Use these chopped clams in place of the canned clams in the recipe. Use the steaming liquid in place of the clam broth.
2 slices bacon (can sub with 2 more tablespoons extra virgin olive oil)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 cups canned tomato juice, strained tomatoes, or crushed tomatoes
1 (14-ounce) can clam broth or juice (see recipe note)
2 (10-ounce) cans baby clams, juice reserved (see recipe note)
1 pound waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
About 12 small live clams, such as littlenecks or Manila clams, cleaned
Tabasco or other hot sauce, to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Cook the bacon:
Slowly cook the bacon with the olive oil on medium heat until the bacon is crispy and its fat rendered. Remove, chop, and set aside.
Saute the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic:
Increase the heat to medium-high and saute the carrots, celery, and onion until soft and translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Do not brown the vegetables. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Return chopped bacon to the pot.
Add the herbs and liquids and then add the potatoes:
Add the thyme, celery seed, bay leaves, tomato juice, clam broth, and the juice from the canned clams and stir. Add the potatoes. Bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer gently until the potatoes are done, about 30 to 40 minutes.
Add the clams:
When the potatoes are tender, add the canned clams and the live clams in their shells, cover the pot and simmer until the live clams open up, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Add hot sauce, salt, and black pepper to taste.
Remove the bay leaves and serve, placing a clam in shell or two in each bowl for serving.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 6 to 8|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 5g||6%|
|Saturated Fat 1g||4%|
|Total Carbohydrate 21g||8%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||9%|
|Total Sugars 3g|
|Vitamin C 58mg||292%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|