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Manhattan Clam Chowder New York Recipe: How to Make the Classic Tomato-Based Soup

Are you a fan of hearty soups? If so, you might want to try Manhattan clam chowder. This famous New York recipe is a tomato-based soup that's loaded with clams, vegetables, and spices. It's a delicious and filling dish that's perfect for chilly evenings or lazy weekends.

A steaming pot of Manhattan clam chowder simmers on a stovetop, filled with chunks of tender clams, potatoes, and savory tomatoes. A sprinkle of fresh parsley adds a pop of color to the rich red broth

Manhattan clam chowder has a long and interesting history. It's said to have originated in the early 1900s, when Italian immigrants in New York started adding tomatoes to their traditional clam chowder recipes. The resulting soup was a hit with locals and soon became a staple in restaurants across the city. Today, Manhattan clam chowder is a beloved dish that's enjoyed by people all over the world.

If you're curious about this classic recipe, you're in luck. In this article, we'll take a closer look at Manhattan clam chowder and explore its history, ingredients, and preparation. We'll also answer some frequently asked questions about the dish and provide some tips for making it at home. So, grab a spoon and get ready to discover the delicious world of Manhattan clam chowder.

Key Takeaways

  • Manhattan clam chowder is a tomato-based soup that's loaded with clams, vegetables, and spices.
  • The dish originated in New York in the early 1900s and quickly became a local favourite.
  • To make Manhattan clam chowder, you'll need clams, tomatoes, vegetables, and spices. It's a relatively easy dish to prepare, but there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind.

History and Origin

A pot simmering on a stove, filled with diced potatoes, onions, and tomatoes, along with clams and broth, creating the iconic Manhattan clam chowder

New York Roots

Manhattan clam chowder is a classic soup that has been enjoyed by New Yorkers for decades. Its origins date back to the early 20th century, when Portuguese immigrants introduced the dish to the city. The soup was originally made with clams, potatoes, and onions, and was served as a hearty meal for working-class families.

Over time, the recipe evolved to include other ingredients such as tomatoes, which gave the soup its distinct red colour. Today, Manhattan clam chowder is a staple of New York cuisine and is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.

Evolution of the Recipe

One of the most famous descriptions of Manhattan clam chowder comes from cookbook writer and chef James Beard. According to him, the soup is "a vegetable soup that happens to have clams in it." This description is fitting, as the recipe has evolved to include a variety of vegetables such as carrots, celery, and green peppers.

Despite its popularity, Manhattan clam chowder has faced some criticism from purists who argue that it is not a true clam chowder. Traditionalists prefer the creamy, white New England clam chowder, which is made with milk or cream.

However, Manhattan clam chowder remains a beloved dish in New York and is often served at seafood restaurants throughout the city. Whether you prefer the creamy goodness of New England clam chowder or the tomato-infused Manhattan version, there's no denying that clam chowder is a delicious and comforting soup that has stood the test of time.

Preparation and Ingredients

A pot simmers on the stove, filled with diced vegetables, clams, and broth. A bottle of white wine sits nearby, along with a bowl of chopped parsley and crispy bacon

Essential Ingredients

To make a delicious Manhattan clam chowder, you will need some essential ingredients. These include fresh or canned clams, diced potatoes, chopped onions, celery, and garlic. You'll also need diced tomatoes, broth, and water, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper. For added flavour, you can use bacon, bacon fat, or salt pork.

Cooking Techniques

To prepare the chowder, start by cooking the bacon or salt pork in a large pot until it is crispy. Remove the bacon and set it aside. Add the onions, celery, and garlic to the pot and cook them until they are soft. Then, add the diced potatoes, tomatoes, broth, water, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and pepper. Simmer the mixture until the potatoes are tender.

Next, add the clams and cook until they are heated through. Finally, add the crispy bacon or salt pork back to the pot and stir. Serve your Manhattan clam chowder hot with some crusty bread on the side.

Variations and Substitutions

There are many variations and substitutions you can make to this recipe to suit your tastes. For example, you can use shrimp or scallops instead of clams, or add some chorizo for a spicy kick. You can also use different types of potatoes, such as Yukon Gold potatoes, or add some green peppers for added flavour.

If you prefer a thicker chowder, you can add some flour or cornstarch to the pot to thicken the broth. You can also adjust the seasoning to suit your taste, adding more salt, pepper, or spices as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

A steaming pot of Manhattan clam chowder sits on a stovetop, surrounded by fresh ingredients like clams, tomatoes, and potatoes. A ladle rests on the side, ready for serving

What's the secret to an authentic Manhattan clam chowder?

The secret to an authentic Manhattan clam chowder is to use fresh clams and a tomato-based broth. The broth should be light and not too thick, allowing the clam flavour to shine through. Some recipes call for bacon or salt pork to add a smoky flavour, but this is optional.

How do I make a simple yet tasty Manhattan clam chowder?

To make a simple yet tasty Manhattan clam chowder, you will need fresh clams, diced tomatoes, onions, celery, garlic, and some herbs and spices. First, steam the clams and set them aside. Then, sauté the onions, celery, and garlic in a pot until they are soft. Add the diced tomatoes, clam juice, and seasonings, and let the mixture simmer for about 30 minutes. Finally, add the clams and let them cook for a few more minutes until they are heated through.

Can you recommend a Manhattan clam chowder recipe that's won awards?

One award-winning Manhattan clam chowder recipe is from the New York Times. It features fresh clams, bacon or salt pork, onions, celery, carrots, diced tomatoes, and some herbs and spices. The recipe has received rave reviews from readers and is a must-try for anyone looking for an authentic Manhattan clam chowder.

What are the key differences between New England and Manhattan clam chowders?

The key difference between New England and Manhattan clam chowders is the broth. New England clam chowder has a creamy, milk-based broth, while Manhattan clam chowder has a tomato-based broth. New England clam chowder is also typically thicker and heartier, while Manhattan clam chowder is lighter and more brothy.

Where can I find the original recipe for Manhattan clam chowder?

The original recipe for Manhattan clam chowder is said to have come from the Native American tribes of the New York area. However, the recipe has evolved over time and there are now many variations. You can find recipes for Manhattan clam chowder in cookbooks, online, and from local chefs and restaurants.

Who is known for making the best Manhattan clam chowder in town?

There are many restaurants in New York that are known for their delicious Manhattan clam chowder. Some of the most popular include the Grand Central Oyster Bar, the Mermaid Inn, and the Brooklyn Chowder Surfer. However, everyone has their own opinion on who makes the best Manhattan clam chowder, so it's worth trying a few different places to find your favourite.