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Home » Red Clam Chowder {Manhattan Style}

Red Clam Chowder {Manhattan Style}

    two bowls of chowder
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    This hearty, chunky tomato-based Red Clam Chowder recipe is loaded with fresh chopped clams, tender potatoes, fennel, and smoky bacon. Also known as Manhattan Clam Chowder, this recipe is the perfect soup to warm you up on a chilly evening, to heat up for lunch, or to serve to house guests during the holiday season.

    a bowl of hearty red clam chowder with oyster crackers on top

    Why We Love This Recipe For Manhattan Style Red Clam Chowder

    While you may think of Creamy New England Seafood Chowder or Rich Corn Chowder when you hear the word “chowder,” but did you know there’s also another chowder without cream known as Red Clam Chowder or Manhattan Clam Chowder? It is a hearty tomato-based, and yes red chowder. Our homemade recipe has plenty of chopped clams, chunks of tender veggies and potatoes, and a flavorful savory broth instead of milk or cream.

    Recipe Highlights

    • This chowder is ready in 40 minutes!
    • Our Red Clam Chowder uses fresh chopped shucked clams instead of canned clams.
    • BUT, it can be adapted to use canned clams.
    • You can also throw other veggies in there!
    • It’s so perfectly hearty and delicious that it’s celebration-worthy!
    • Serve it up with Whole Wheat Bread to make it a full meal.

    Key Ingredients for Manhattan Clam Chowder

    ingredients to make manhattan clam chowder

    Fresh Shucked Clams

    These chopped shucked clams are sold by the pound in brine in deli containers at the fish counter in large supermarkets, seafood markets, and meat markets. If they’re frozen, thaw them in the fridge overnight. If they’re still frozen after waiting overnight, set the deli container in a warm water bath for 30 minutes. Then, use the clams immediately. Reserve the brine that comes in the packaging for the recipe.

    Can I make this chowder with Canned Clams?

    You can! Just substitute in 1-1/2 cups minced canned clams, drained (or about four 6-1/2 ounce cans). If you use canned clams, do not simmer for 1 minute in step 6.

    Clam Juice and Broth

    For the clam juice, I used Bar Harbor brand clam juice. It’s lower in sodium than other brands, so it will make your chowder much less salty. If you can’t find Bar Harbor, no worries. Just skip the added salt, taste, and adjust your salt content at the end.

    vegetables

    For vegetable content in this recipe, we use sweet onion, fennel, celery, and white potatoes.

    Canned Tomatoes

    Use a 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes. We love the smoky flavor fire roasted diced tomatoes add to the chowder. If you like a little bit of spice, look for those with added green chiles.

    Seasonings

    The seasonings in this chowder include minced garlic, thyme (dry or fresh), smoked paprika, celery seed, freshly ground pepper, and salt to taste.

    Additional Ingredients

    • Uncooked bacon, chopped
    • Dry white wine (optional)
    • olive oil

    How To Make Homemade Chowder with Fresh Clams

    cook bacon and onion

    Step 1: Cook Bacon

    Place the chopped bacon in the bottom of a large heavy-bottom soup pot on medium heat. Cook the bacon, stirring often until it’s crispy. This should take about 5-7 minutes. Remove the bacon pieces with a slotted spoon and place them on a plate lined with a paper towel.

    Step 2: Cook Onions

    Add oil to the bacon fat in your pot and then add onion, garlic, and salt. Stir occasionally as it cooks until the onions are golden brown, about 6-8 minutes.

    add vegetables and wine to the pot

    Step 3: Add Seasonings and Vegetables

    Increase the heat to medium-high and then stir in the fennel, celery, thyme, smoked paprika, celery seed, and pepper. Cook the mixture, stirring often until the vegetables start to soften. This should take about 2 to 3 minutes.

    Step 4: Add Wine

    If you’re using dry white wine, add it now and bring it to a simmer. Cook until the wine is mostly evaporated, which should take about 2 minutes.

    add potatoes, tomatoes, and clams to the pot

    Step 5: Add Broth, Clam Juice, and Potatoes

    Add in the broth, clam juice, and potatoes. Bring the pot’s content to a simmer and then reduce the heat to medium-low, or to maintain a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 12-14 minutes.

    Step 6: Add Tomatoes and Clams

    Add the tomatoes and clams, and then return to a steady simmer. Stir often and simmer for one minute. Do not overcook. Stir in the bacon and remove your soup pot from the heat. Ladle the chowder into bowls and top each serving with chopped fennel fronds. Serve hot and enjoy!

    red clam chowder in a bowl with crackers on top and around

    FAQs and Expert Tips

    Origin of Manhattan Clam Chowder

    What is the difference between Rhode Island, Manhattan, and New England Clam Chowder?

    It all comes down to the cream! New England Clam Chowder is made with milk and/or cream so it comes out thick and creamy. Rhode Island Clam Chowder is essentially exactly the same as its New England counterpart but it’s made without dairy so it comes out with a clear broth. Manhattan Clam Chowder (or red clam chowder!) omits dairy and is made with more tomatoes and veggies!

    Why do they call it Manhattan Clam Chowder?

    Manhattan Clam Chowder came about when tomatoes became popular in the mid-1800s and the New York Italian and Rhode Island Portuguese populations started adding it to the chowder. Somewhere along the way, this version of clam chowder became popular in New York so it was dubbed Manhattan Clam Chowder.

    Is Red Clam Chowder dairy-free?

    Yes! Unlike New England clam chowder, red (or Manhattan) clam chowder is dairy free.

    Can red clam chowder be made ahead?

    You can make the chowder base up to one day in advance (up to step 6) and then bring to a simmer and stir in the tomatoes and clams before serving. You can then store the chowder leftovers in an air-tight container for 3-5 days in the refrigerator. Reheat until steaming hot but do not boil when reheating.

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    Can I freeze this chowder?

    Yes, you can freeze Manhattan Clam Chowder for 4-6 months. Defrost the soup by placing it in the fridge overnight and then heating it through on the stovetop.

    What do I serve with red clam chowder?

    I recommend oyster crackers and bread! They were made for clam chowder! You can also serve it with cornbread or corn muffins, or salad, or you can serve smaller portions of the chowder with a sandwich or wrap for lunch.

    Additional Seafood Recipes To Try

    red clam chowder in bowls with oyster crackers and fennel scattered about with spoons

    Thanks so much for reading! If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my email newsletter to get a free weekly menu plan and the latest recipes right to your inbox. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you thought!

    Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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    Description

    This Classic Manhattan-Style Red Clam Chowder has chunks of tender potatoes, celery and fennel and is loaded with freshly shucked clams.


    • 6 slices uncooked bacon, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 2 cups diced sweet onion
    • 4 cloves garlic minced
    • ¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste
    • 1 bulb fennel, diced, plus chopped fronds for serving
    • 1 cup diced celery
    • 1 teaspoon dry thyme gold 2 teaspoons fresh
    • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • ¼ teaspoon celery seeds
    • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    • ½ cup dry white wine, optional
    • 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
    • 2 cups clam juice, (16 fl ounces) such as Bar Harbor brand
    • 2 large white potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks
    • 1 14-ounce can diced canned tomatoes* See note
    • 2 cups raw shucked clams in juice* See note

    1. Place bacon in the bottom of a large heavy-bottom soup pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring often until the bacon is crispy, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the bacon pieces to a plate lined with a paper towel with a slotted spoon.
    2. Add oil to the bacon fat and add onion, garlic and salt and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
    3. Increase heat to medium-high, stir in fennel, celery, thyme, smoked paprika, celery seed and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables start to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.
    4. Add wine, if using, and bring to a simmer. Cook until the wine is mostly evaporated, about 2 minutes.
    5. Add in broth, clam juice and potatoes and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low or to maintain a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, 12 to 14 minutes.
    6. Add tomatoes and clams and return to a steady simmer, stirring often. Simmer for 1 minute. Stir in bacon and remove from the heat. Ladle chowder into bowls and top with chopped fennel fronds. Serve hot.

    Ratings

    Ingredient Note:

    Canned Diced Tomatoes: We love the smoky flavor fire roasted diced tomatoes add to the chowder. If you like a little bit of spice, look for those with added green chiles.

    Shucked Clams: These chopped shucked clams are sold by the pound in brine in deli containers at the fish counter in large supermarkets, seafood markets, and meat markets. Sometimes they’re frozen. Thaw in the fridge overnight. If still frozen, set the deli container in a warm water bath for 30 minutes and use immediately. Include the packing brine in the recipe.

    • Prep Time: 10 mins
    • Active Time: 30 mins
    • Cook Time: 40 mins
    • Category: soup
    • Method: Stove Top
    • Kitchen: seafood

    Nutrition

    • Serving Size: 2 cups
    • calories: 362
    • Sugar: 9g
    • Fat: 15g
    • Carbohydrates: 26g
    • fiber: 4g
    • protein: 32g

    Keywords: manhattan clam chowder, red clam chowder, manhattan-style chowder

    About the Author

    Katie Webster

    Katie Webster studied art and photography at Skidmore College and is a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute. She has been a professional recipe developer since 2001 when she first started working in the test kitchen at EatingWell magazine. Her recipes have been featured in numerous magazines including Shape, Fitness, Parents and several Edible Communities publications among others. Her cookbook, Maple {Quirk Books} was published in 2015. She launched Healthy Seasonal Recipes in 2009. She lives in Vermont with her husband, two teenage daughters and two yellow labs. In her free time, you can find her at the gym, cooking, stacking firewood, making maple syrup, and tending to her overgrown perennial garden.

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