What’s Your Favorite Clam Chowder?
Manhattan or New England?
Many people who come to my site are looking for “the definitive recipe for whatever it might be:brownies, yellow cake, beef stew, etc. The truth is that there are very few definitive recipes.
Recipes are rarely set in stone, and chefs and home cooks around the world vary ingredients based on availability and personal taste.
While I can’t give you a definitive recipe for clam chowder, I can talk about the different types of clam chowders and give you a basic recipe for each. Don’t hesitate to play with your ingredients and add or substitute product that you enjoy.
The broad definition of “chowder” is a seafood soup or stew, usually containing potatoes. According to that definition, any soup containing clams and potatoes is technically a clam chowder. That’s not to say that there aren’t distinct types of clam chowder out there, as well as folks willing to go to blows over which type is the best.
As far as I’m concerned, “the best” is the one that you like. I have my own preference, and it might not be the same as yours, but any soup or stew with potatoes and clams is really okay in my book.
The two types of clam chowders that most people have heard of are New England and Manhattan. New England clam chowder is traditionally cream based and “white.”
Manhattan clam chowder contains chunks of tomato and is “red.” Although the origins of both types are a bit murky, it is generally agreed that the New England style has been around longer than the Manhattan style.
Regardless, as typical of chowders, both types contain seafood (clams, in this case) and potatoes.Both are fairly simply seasoned, and both are quite tasty.
New England Clam Chowder Recipe
For New England Clam Chowder
- 3 slices bacon
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 2 ribs celery diced
- salt and white pepper to taste
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon dried herbs parsley, thyme and oregano are nice
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup clam juice fish stock or low sodium chicken stock
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups potato peeled and diced
- hot sauce to taste
- 2 cups clams chopped
- fresh parsley chopped, for garnish
For New England Clam Chowder
- Cook bacon in a soup pot over medium heat until crisp. Drain, cool and crumble. Set aside.
- Over medium to medium-high heat, sauté the onions and celery with salt and white pepper, the bay leaf and the dried herbs. Cook until the vegetables are translucent and just beginning to turn golden around the edges.
- Add the butter and flour. Stir for a minute or two, adjusting heat to medium.
- Add the clam juice or stock or broth, the heavy cream and the diced potato. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about ten minutes.
- Stir in the clams and hot sauce. Simmer for another 3-4 minutes. Taste and correct seasonings.
- To serve, place some crumbled bacon in each bowl, top with the chowder and sprinkle on the parsley. Serve with saltines or oyster crackers.
Manhattan Clam Chowder Recipe
For Manhattan Clam Chowder
- Cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Drain and crumble. Reserve for later.
- Cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Drain and crumble. Set aside.
- Sauté the onion and celery in the bacon drippings with salt and black pepper, bay leaf and dried herbs. Cook until the vegetables are softened and beginning to turn golden around the edges.
- Return the bacon to the pan and add the wine. Reduce until almost dry.
- Add the clam juice, stock or broth and tomatoes with juice.
- Crush the tomatoes in the pot with the back of a wooden spoon, but leave them in fairly large pieces. Let simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Add the potatoes and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about ten more minutes.
- Taste and correct the seasonings.
- Ladle into bowls and top each with some fresh minced parsley.