Manhattan Clam Chowder

When there's a chill in the air, it’s time to make comforting soups, and chowders always present a hearty choice.

There are many kinds of chowder, most often made with a potato, onion and milk/cream base. From there, clams, corn or fish get added to determine what type of chowder you’ll serve.

While in New York recently, I enjoyed some Manhattan clam chowder. It’s not to be confused with the more popular New England clam chowder. Unlike most chowders, Manhattan features a clear broth with tomatoes added for flavor. 

Always curious about foods and their origins, I learned this version of chowder dates to the mid-1800s. It came about when tomatoes gained popularity in cooking. Originally, it was known as New York chowder or Fulton Fish Market clam chowder for that business in New York.

The name changed to Manhattan clam chowder in the 1930s. Apparently, New Englanders who disapproved of tomatoes in their chowder named it “Manhattan-style.”

The chowder becomes a complete meal when served with a grilled cheese sandwich or a crusty loaf of bread and a green salad.


3 tablespoons butter, unsalted
2 ounces, pancetta, bacon or salt pork, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 small red pepper, diced
1 small green pepper, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound russet potatoes, cubed

4 6.5-ounce cans clams chopped, juice reserved
1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon thyme, dried
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons parsley, minced
Salt and pepper



In a 4-quart soup pot, melt the butter and then cook the pancetta or pork until it lightly browns. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the onion, peppers and celery to the butter cooking over a medium heat and stirring occasionally until tender, approximately 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for two minutes. Add the potatoes, bottled and reserved clam juice, thyme and bay leaf and simmer until the potatoes are tender another 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, reserved ham and clams, stir to combine and simmer 10 more minutes. Stir in the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.