Manhattan Clam Chowder

I’ve never eaten Manhattan clam chowder, that is until now.  I grew up in the East Coast of Canada and being a 4th generation Canadian, clam chowder was always served using milk or cream (New England clam chowder).  I have The Countryman’s Cookbook copyright 1946 and author Haydn S. Pearson writes this about clam chowder:

“In foreign parts of the United States, a place like New York City for instance, they do all sorts of things we wouldn’t dream of doing up here in New England.  I know it’s hard to believe, but they actually put tomatoes, green peppers, and carrots in clam chowder!  I paid 80 cents for a bowl of it once, but it turned my stomach so I couldn’t eat it.”

Tomatoes were introduced in the mid 1800’s due to a large population of Italians in New York and Portuguese in the fishing communities in Rhode Island. According to Wikipedia, the New England clam chowder has been around since the mid 18th century while the Manhattan clam chowder seems to have started in the 1930’s.

Serves 4
adapted from Emeril Lagasse

4 lbs. clams (quahogs, if possible as they are a bit richer and more succulent ), scrubbed and rinsed (discard any opened clams) OR a jar of clams in their brine
2 to 3 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
3/4 cup diced carrot
1 garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
1 cup chicken stock
2 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes or 1 (28-oz.) can whole tomatoes, chopped and juices reserved
1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves
1/2 cup white wine

In a large stockpot add clams and 1 1/2 cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes or until the clams have opened. Transfer clams to a large bowl and strain broth through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl. You should have about 3 cups of clam broth. If not, add enough water to bring the volume up to 3 cups. When clams are cool enough to handle, remove them from their shells and chop into 1/2-inch pieces. Set clams and broth aside.

In a large pot add bacon and cook until golden and crispy. Pour off all fat except 4 tablespoons. Add onions, celery, and carrots and cook 8 to 10 minutes, until vegetables are softened. Do not allow to brown. Add garlic, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, wine, crushed red pepper and cook an additional 2 minutes. Increase heat to high and add potatoes, reserved clam broth, and chicken stock and bring to a boil, covered. Cook for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Add tomatoes and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and add reserved clams and parsley and season with pepper and salt (if needed).

The Culinary Chase’s Note:
John and I enjoyed this chowder and I would definitely make this again.  If time permits, allow the chowder to sit for up to 1 hour as this increases the flavor.  Reheat slowly over low heat and do not allow to boil.   Enjoy!


  1. alana on November 5, 2011 at 02:28

    Yummo,I am sooo not a clam choder gal but that looks tempting.

  2. The Culinary Chase on November 5, 2011 at 13:54

    Thanks Alana. It’s a light chowder loaded with flavor and vitamins. Cheers!

  3. i Rantz on July 10, 2012 at 07:45

    Not to take anything away from this recipe because it looks fabulous, but this is not Manhattan Clam Chowder. It is actually Rhode Island Clam Chowder. Manhattan style has a tomato base where as Rhode Island style, has a chicken base.