Hmmm, let me think. New England or Manhattan. Just so you know, we’re not talking about travel destinations here…we’re talkin’ soup. If you enjoy clam chowder but can’t seem to decide which type you prefer, this one’s for you.
Imagine the assertively seasoned Manhattan version of clam broth flavored with bits of tomato. Now blend that with just a bit of the creaminess of New England’s claim to chowder fame. What you have is a perfect balance …the best clam chowder. New Manhattan Clam Chowder.
For this presentation, I used cherrystone clams since they are small and are likely to be tender. You could also use littleneck clams, which are similar. Check with your fishmonger to see which variety is the freshest.
It is important to clean the clams before cooking them. Discard any clams that do not close their shells when tapping them on the countertop or that have cracked or chipped shells. Place all the clams in a bowl and fill it with cool tap water. Adding cornmeal or black pepper to the water will encourage the clams to spit out more sand. Let the clams sit for 20 minutes to an hour. During this time, they will spit out the sand from inside their shells.
When ready to cook them, lift the clams from the water (a few at a time with a slotted spoon) and check for (and remove) any obvious grit on the outside shell surface. It’s better to lift them individually because straining them into a colander would dump the sand back on top!
When the clams are finished cooking, they should all be opened. If there are any that have not opened, toss them. Using your slotted spoon, transfer the clams to a separate bowl. Be careful not to spill any of that delicious broth. The broth is then strained into another container and set aside.
It’s now time to fry up the chopped bacon in the same pot you’ll be using to make your chowder. Once the bacon is browned and crisp, the raw chopped veggies are added.
While all of that goodness is cooking, let’s get the clams ready. They should be cool by now. Remove the clams from their shells. Discard the shells and roughly chop the clams. Set them aside as they will not be added until just before the chowder is ready.
When the bacon and vegetable combination is tender, the flour and clam broth is added. When all is blended, add the diced potatoes and herbs. That will simmer for a bit.
When the potatoes are tender, remove those herbs. Add the tomatoes and cream. Let it simmer for just a few minutes. It’s now time to add the chopped clams and enjoy.
We really love this chowder when it is served in sourdough bread bowls. You may be able to purchase them from your local bakery or specialty food market. They definitely have them at Panera Bread if you have one of their restaurants nearby.
If not, this is totally delicious served the old-fashioned way …in a soup bowl. I would just recommend having lots of crusty bread nearby for sopping up all of that deliciousness.
new manhattan clam chowder
Adapted from Emma Laperruque on FOOD52
The creaminess of New England Clam Chowder combined with the assertive tomato flavor of Manhattan Clam Chowder.
- 3 pounds cherrystone or littleneck clams, soaked & rinsed
- 3 cups seafood stock or broth
- 1 cup dry white wine (plus more for finishing, if desired)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 5 thick slices bacon, roughly chopped (about 8 ounces)
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 7 ounces)
- 3 stalks celery, finely chopped (about 7.5 ounces)
- 1 large yellow bell pepper, finely chopped (about 7.5 ounces)
- kosher salt, to taste
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or gluten-free flour)
- 1 large Yukon potato, diced into 1/2" cubes (about 10 ounces)
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 14.5 ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes, roughly chopped (including juice)
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
Combine clams, seafood stock, and the white wine in a large, high-sided sauté pan or dutch oven. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Cover and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the clams have opened. Toss any that stay closed. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the clams to a bowl and set aside. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof bowl. Pour very slowly — if there is any remaining sand, it will linger at the bottom; toss that.)
Set the empty pot back on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the butter. When it’s melted, add the bacon. Cook until the fat has mostly rendered and the meat is starting to color and crisp, about 7 minutes.
Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper. Stir and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom. Season with a big pinch of salt. Sauté until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, remove the clams from their shells. Toss the shells and roughly chop the clams. Once again, set them aside.
When the vegetables are soft, add the garlic and stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the flour and stir. Keep stirring as you slowly add the clam broth. Pour slowly so that any residue will remain at the bottom and can be tossed. Add the potatoes, thyme leaves, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender about 15 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and cream. Bring to a simmer and cook for another couple minutes. Season to taste with salt. Add the chopped clams. Just before serving, season to taste with white wine, if desired. Serve with oyster crackers and/or crusty, sliced bread. Delicious when served in a bread bowl.