Warm up with a cozy bowl of homemade Manhattan clam chowder. This one-pot recipe is made with tender potatoes, chunks of veggies, bacon, and of course, clams! Serve this with a side of crusty bread or light salad and dinner is served.
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Easy Manhattan Clam Chowder
Delicious Manhattan chowder is one of those soups you might think you need to wait until you go out to eat to order. It’s got layers of flavors, smoky bacon, tons of veggies, and a beautifully seasoned clam broth. So, naturally, it would be complicated right?
But it’s not! This Manhattan style chowder is a great recipe that’s so easy to make you may never need to order it again!
It starts with cooking the bacon and rendering the fat which we then use to cook the veggies. If this doesn’t start like the BEST way to build flavor, I don’t know what does. Then, it’s just a matter of adding the rest of the ingredients and simmering until the savory, zesty, and briny flavors meld and the potatoes are tender. It’s so good!
Below is a list of the ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this hearty chowder. Scroll down to the full recipe card for individual amounts.
- Bacon: Not only does it provide the chowder a salty smoky flavor and added texture, but we’re also using the bacon fat to cook the veggies for extra flavor.
- Green bell pepper, diced: I use green bell pepper because it’s the most savory of the peppers, and the green adds a nice pop of color. If you prefer, you can swap the green for red bell pepper, orange bell pepper, or yellow bell pepper. You can also use sliced carrots instead.
- Onion, diced: either white or yellow onions add an aromatic ingredient that tastes AMAZING when cooked in bacon fat.
- Celery chopped: Light and crisp, celery adds to the chunkiness of the chowder.
- Minced garlic: You’ll need 3 cloves of fresh garlic. If replacing fresh garlic with a teaspoon of garlic powder, you’ll need ⅛ teaspoon per clove.
- Diced tomatoes, undrained: The tomatoes are part of what makes this red chowder! Tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes are another option.
- Clam juice: You’re going to need extra bottled clam juice on its own as well as the reserved juice from the cans of clams. I use Snow’s all-natural clams and clam juice, but use what you prefer.
- Chicken broth: Now would be a great time to use up any homemade broth you may have on hand. If using store-bought, either regular or low-sodium can be used.
- Potatoes diced: Russet potatoes are great, which is what I use. However, they are starchier which can thicken your soup as they fall apart. Waxier potatoes like Yukon Gold or red potatoes will maintain their structure a bit better, but honestly, it’s a personal preference.
- Seasoning: Dried thyme, salt and pepper, and a bay leaf. Dried basil or oregano also works!
- Chopped Clams: I used canned clams in the recipe. Save the clam juice.
1. If pork bacon isn’t your thing, use turkey bacon or a plant-based bacon substitute. Neither will render the same type of fat, or maybe not even enough, so feel free to add a bit of oil if needed.
2. Liquid smoke or smoked paprika can be a stand-in for the flavor of smoky bacon and then sauté the veggies in olive oil.
3. Swap the onion for shallots or add in some fennel or bok choy.
4. Want to make a spicy clam chowder? Sprinkle in some red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, diced jalapeño peppers or your favorite hot sauce.
5. Fresh diced tomatoes can be used. I use canned for the sake of convenience but if you have some fresh tomatoes you want to use up, go for it.
6. Use vegetable broth or water instead of chicken stock or broth.
7. Substitute the clams! Ok, so it may no longer be a clam chowder, but using chunks of firm white fish, shrimp, or scallops can be a nice twist.
8. Use fresh thyme if desired. Just use about 3 times the amount.
What is the difference between New England Clam Chowder and Manhattan clam chowder?
The main difference is that classic Manhattan clam chowder has a thinner, tomato base broth whereas the New England version has a heavy cream (or milk) based broth. Both are equally delicious!
How to Make this Clam Chowder
This recipe comes together in under 1 hour using one pot for easy cleanup! Serve this hearty soup with a basket of bread on the table and dinner is served.
Step 1: Grab your large Dutch oven or large pot and cook the chopped bacon over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove the pieces with a slotted spoon, leaving the grease behind. Place them on a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
Step 2: Add the onion, bell pepper, onion, celery, and minced garlic and sauté in the bacon grease for about 5-7 minutes until the veggies begin to soften. Stir in the tomatoes (with the juice), clam juice, juice from the canned clams, chicken broth, potatoes, and other seasonings.
Step 3: Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer for about 15-20 minutes. At this point, the potatoes should be fork-tender.
Step 4: Once the potatoes are cooked, add the drained clam meat and return the cooked bacon to the soup.
Step 5: Cook for a couple of minutes until the soup is heated throughout. Then, remove the bay leaf, serve, and enjoy!
What to serve with Manhattan clam chowder?
You can serve this tomato-based clam chowder as an appetizer for any Italian meal or as a main dish. You can also complete your meal with a side salad of your choice.
We love having a big bowl of chowder with crusty bread to soak up every drop of leftover broth. Saltine crackers or oyster crackers are always fun to dip into the soup!
- Fresh clams are an option if you have some extra time (or you happen to live in an area where fresh clams are easy to come by). Make sure to scrub the shells clean. Then, add them to the chowder once the potatoes are tender. Simmer until they have opened up (about 5-7 minutes). Discard any clams that do not open.
- You can serve the Manhattan clam chowder as an appetizer or a main dish.
- For extra flavor, replace some of the chicken broth with dry white wine.
- Top with fresh parsley if desired.
- Store chowder in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Freezing potatoes can get tricky—the texture changes once they are thawed. However, there is no cream to worry about, so you may get away with it if you prefer to avoid wasting leftovers. Thaw it in the fridge overnight and reheat it.
- For a quick reheat of a single serving, use the microwave. If you want to reheat a larger portion, reheat on the stove over medium heat.
Manhattan Clam Chowder
- 4 slices of bacon cut into small pieces
- 1 green bell pepper diced
- 1 large onion diced
- 2 celery stalks chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 28 ounces petite diced tomatoes 1 can, undrained
- 2 cups clam juice
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 3 cups potatoes diced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 13 ounces chopped clams (2) 6.5 ounce cans, each drained and juice reserved
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, add the diced bacon and cook over medium heat until crispy.4 slices of bacon
- Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel lined plate and set aside. Leave the bacon grease in the pot.
- Add the diced bell pepper, onion, celery and minced garlic to the pot with reserved bacon grease and sauté for about 5-7 minutes until they begin to soften.1 green bell pepper, 1 large onion, 2 celery stalks, 3 cloves garlic
- Stir in the undrained tomatoes, clam juice (from the canned clams and the clam juice itself), chicken broth, diced potatoes, dried thyme, salt, pepper and bay leaf.28 ounces petite diced tomatoes, 2 cups clam juice, 2 cups chicken broth, 3 cups potatoes, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, 1 bay leaf
- Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer and cook for about 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender, .
- Once the potatoes are cooked, add the drained clams and cooked bacon back into the soup.13 ounces chopped clams
- Cook another 1-2 minutes until everything is heated thoroughly.
- Remove bay leaf prior to serving.
Nutritional facts are estimates and are provided as a courtesy to the reader. Please utilize your own brand nutritional values to double check against our estimates. Nutritional values are calculated via a third party. Changing ingredients, amounts or cooking technique will alter the estimated nutritional calculations.
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