This Manhattan clam chowder is clams simmered with bacon, vegetables and potatoes in a savory tomato broth. A hearty soup that’s easy to make and perfect when served as an appetizer or main course option.
If you’re a seafood lover, you’ll adore this Manhattan clam chowder. It’s loaded with clams, veggies and potatoes, and is a lighter way to get your clam chowder fix as opposed to the creamy New England version.
How do you make Manhattan clam chowder?
This recipe starts with bacon, which cooks in the pot until it’s crispy and browned. The bacon is removed from the pan, and the vegetables cook in the leftover bacon fat. The next step is to add tomato paste, clam juice, broth, potatoes and seasonings. The soup simmers until the potatoes are tender, then tomatoes and clams are stirred into the pot. Add the bacon back to the pot, along with some chopped parsley, then serve and enjoy!
Tips for the perfect Manhattan clam chowder
- I use canned clams because they’re super convenient and give this soup great flavor. If you prefer to use fresh clams, you can use 36 cherry stone or little neck clams. Place the scrubbed clams in the pot after the potatoes are tender, and simmer for 5-7 minutes or until the clams have opened up.
- This soup stays fresh in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can also freeze your chowder for up to 2 months. Store the frozen chowder in an airtight container in the freezer, then thaw overnight and reheat on the stove top.
- Serve this soup as an appetizer with oyster crackers on top, or offer it as a main course option with garlic bread and a green salad on the side.
What is the difference between Manhattan and New England clam chowder?
Manhattan clam chowder has many of the same flavor components of the New England version, such as clams, clam juice, onion, celery, bacon and seasonings. The major difference between the two is that Manhattan chowder has a tomato based broth and more vegetables. New England chowder has a creamy soup base without any tomato products involved.
Clam chowder variations
This is a fairly traditional red clam chowder recipe, but you can add other ingredients to customize this dish to your tastes.
- Meat: Instead of bacon, try salt pork, pancetta or even diced cubed ham.
- Vegetables: Try adding green bell peppers or corn to add more nutrition to the dish.
- Seafood: You can turn this into a seafood chowder by adding shrimp, mussels, crab or fish.
Slow cooker clam chowder
This dish can easily be adapted to the slow cooker. Follow the first 4 steps of the recipe, then transfer the cooked vegetables to a crock pot, along with the tomato paste, seasonings, clam juice, broth and potatoes. Cook on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours, until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the clams and tomatoes and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Stir in the bacon and parsley, then serve.
Once you try this chowder, you’ll find it on your regular dinner rotation. It’s an unexpected meal that’s a total crowd pleaser!
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Manhattan Clam Chowder
Manhattan Clam Chowder
- 6 slices bacon chopped
- 1/2 cup onion diced
- 2 carrots peeled, quartered and sliced
- 1/2 cup celery sliced
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 pound Russet potatoes peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
- 2 8 ounce bottles clam juice
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 28 ounce can diced tomatoes do not drain
- 10 ounce can whole baby clams drained
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- oyster crackers and cooked bacon for serving optional
- Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp.
- Remove the bacon from the pot and drain on paper towels.
- Add the onions, carrots and celery to the pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
- Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Place the tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf, clam juice, broth and potatoes in the pot. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer.
- Cook for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
- Stir in the tomatoes and baby clams. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.
- Simmer for 5 more minutes. Stir in the reserved bacon. Top with chopped parsley. Add oyster crackers and more bacon if desired, then serve.