Traditional Manhattan Clam Chowder Recipe
Although you do not have to use fresh clams in this Manhattan clam chowder, you should, because they do make a lot of difference. Manhattan clam chowder dates back to the late 1800s and the dish was first made in Rhode Island. Portuguese immigrants used to add tomatoes to their chowder in this region, since tomato-based stews were popular in their native cuisine. New England clam chowder is based on cream or milk, and does not include tomatoes.
Most people prefer one version to the other but if you have only ever tried the New England version, you should try this Manhattan clam chowder, to compare the difference. You might find you like them both and which one you choose to make depends on your mood or whether you have more milk or tomatoes to use up. The following recipe combines clams with tomatoes, clam juice, bacon, and vegetables.
The onion, bell pepper, celery, and potato add nutrients and help to thicken the chowder. Swap the potato for carrot if you prefer, or use red bell pepper for a sweeter flavor than green bell pepper. The bacon adds a lovely meatiness but if you do not eat meat then you can add a splash of olive oil instead of the bacon. You can make this without the parsley or clams a day ahead, and then bring it to a simmer before proceeding with the recipe.
- 18 small well-scrubbed, hard-shelled clams, 1½ to 2 inches in diameter
- 3 tablespoons diced green bell pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- ⅔ cup diced peeled potato
- 3 tablespoons diced celery
- ⅓ cup chopped onion
- 2 chopped bacon slices
- 8 oz bottle clam juice
- 8 oz canned diced tomatoes in juice
- Sauté the bacon in a pot over a medium heat for 5 minutes or until golden, stirring often.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the onion, celery, and bell pepper.
- Cook for 5 minutes or until soft, stirring often.
- Stir in the clam juice, potato, and the tomatoes including their juice, and simmer covered for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the clams and simmer covered for 8 minutes or until the clams open wide.
- Discard any clams that have not opened after 10 minutes.
- Take the pan off the heat.
- Remove most of the clamshells with tongs, then detach the clams and put them back in the chowder.
- You can keep a few in their shells as a garnish.
- Stir in the parsley and add salt and black pepper to taste.
This chowder has been popular for many years and it is made the same way now as it was in the early days. The Portuguese were the first to add tomatoes to this recipe and many people agree the sweetness of tomatoes adds a Mediterranean charm to the dish. You can see from this photo how colorful the chowder is. Although the seasonings are kept to a minimum, this soup still has a wonderful flavor which is down to the clams, clam juice, vegetables and bacon, as well as a little parsley. Keeping the flavors simple ensures the unique clam flavor will really shine.
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