This easy Manhattan Clam Chowder recipe is delicious proof that not all chowders are creamy. A light tomato base allows the clam flavor to shine.

A bowl of Manhattan clam chowder soup with oyster crackers garnishing it.

When you think “clam chowder,” your brain might jump to New England Clam Chowder; a thick, cream-colored chowder. Also known as Boston clam chowder, it starts with milk and/or heavy cream, and often features onions, celery, and potatoes.

But there’s another noteworthy clam chowder: Manhattan. Brothy, herb-infused Manhattan Clam Chowder is lighter and often cream-free.

My Manhattan Clam Chowder veers more toward to New York style, but still calls for a splash of heavy cream for just enough richness. And it’s really tasty.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Manhattan Clam Chowder Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for Manhattan Clam Chowder.

Ingredient notes

  • Bacon: For a vegetarian substitute, replace the bacon with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and start at step 2.
  • Clam juice: This infuses additional clam flavor and keeps the chowder from being too bland.
  • Potatoes: A semi-waxy, buttery variety like Yukon golds hold their shape well in this chowder, as do baby red potatoes.
  • Canned clams: My instructions call for draining these before adding to the chowder base. If you prefer your chowder to have stronger clam flavor, reserve the juice from drained clams and add a splash, or your desired amount to taste, in step 4. Or if you like it extra clammy, simply use 2 cans (plus juice, if you like).

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Line a plate with paper towels and set aside. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook the bacon for about 7 to 8 minutes until crispy, flipping over halfway. Remove bacon from pan and set aside.
Bacon pieces being fried in a pot with a wooden spoon resting in it.
  1. To the bacon fat, add the onions, celery, and carrots, cook until vegetables are softened, about 5 mins. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring often.
Onion, celery and carrot in a silver pot.
  1. To the vegetable mixture, add clam juice, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and potatoes. Season with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper (like 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
A pot of Manhattan clam chowder soup.
  1. Chop bacon, if using, and add to pot along with clams, and heavy cream and continue to simmer uncovered, about 10 minutes.
A pot of Manhattan clam chowder soup.
  1. Serve individual bowls and garnish with parsley and oyster crackers.
A bowl of Manhattan clam chowder soup with oyster crackers garnishing it.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes eight 1-cup servings, ideal for a round of family dinners plus some leftovers (for those who are lucky enough to savor a second round!).
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Freezer: Cool the chowder in the refrigerator, then pour into freezer-safe storage containers or heavy-duty zip-top freezer bags and freeze for up to 4 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat on the stove or in the microwave.
  • Get creative with your chowder: Add diced sweet potatoes with the potatoes. For even more herby flavor, stir in a bay leaf or some fresh thyme. And if the red pepper flakes don’t add quite enough kick, shake in a few drops of hot sauce.
  • Take your bowl over the top: Fresh parsley and oyster crackers are traditional toppings. You could also toss on some extra crumbled crispy bacon, sliced scallions, or fresh herbs such as basil or tarragon. If you don’t feel like oyster crackers, a handful of croutons or a few pieces of toasted crostini are always welcome, too!
A pot of Manhattan clam chowder soup with a ladle resting in it.

New England Clam Chowder

You don’t have to live on a coast to have best New England Clam Chowder in the world. This authentic, stick-to-your-ribs recipe has all the right stuff: bacon, potatoes, cream, and (of course) lots of…

50 minutes
View Recipe

Make this chowder a meal

A white bowl filled with Manhattan clam chowder.

Manhattan Clam Chowder

Think all chowder recipes are creamy? This easy Manhattan Clam Chowder recipe is delicious proof otherwise. A light tomato base allows the clam flavor to shine.
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Servings 8 servings (1 cup each)
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Calories 97

Ingredients 

  • 6 strips bacon diced, optional (see note 1)
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 celery rib diced
  • 1 large carrot diced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 (8-ounce) jar clam juice (see note 2)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup potatoes such as Yukon Gold, peeled and cubed (see note 3)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes optional
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 (10-ounce) can clams drained (see note 4)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • fresh parsley minced, for garnish
  • oyster crackers for garnish

Instructions 

  • Line a plate with paper towels and set aside. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook the bacon for about 7-8 minutes until crispy, flipping over halfway. Remove bacon from pan and set aside.
  • To the bacon fat, add the onions, celery, and carrots, cook until vegetables are softened, about 5 mins. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring often.
  • To the vegetable mixture, add clam juice, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and potatoes. Season with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper (like 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  • Chop bacon, if using, and add to pot along with clams, and heavy cream and continue to simmer uncovered, about 10 minutes. Serve individual bowls and garnish with parsley and oyster crackers.

Notes

  1. Bacon: For a vegetarian substitute, replace the bacon with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and start at step 2.
  2. Clam juice: This infuses additional clam flavor and keeps the chowder from being too bland.
  3. Potatoes: A semi-waxy, buttery variety like Yukon golds hold their shape well in this chowder, as do baby red potatoes.
  4. Canned clams: My instructions call for draining these before adding to the chowder base. If you prefer your chowder to have stronger clam flavor, reserve the juice from drained clams and add a splash, or your desired amount to taste, in step 4. Or if you like it extra clammy, simply use 2 cans (plus juice, if you like).
  5. Yield: This recipe makes eight 1-cup servings, ideal for a round of family dinners plus some leftovers (for those who are lucky enough to savor a second round!).
  6. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  7. Freezer: Cool the chowder in the refrigerator, then pour into freezer-safe storage containers or heavy-duty zip-top freezer bags and freeze for up to 4 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat on the stove or in the microwave.
  8. Get creative with your chowder: Add diced sweet potatoes with the potatoes. For even more herby flavor, stir in a bay leaf or some fresh thyme. And if the red pepper flakes don’t add quite enough kick, shake in a few drops of hot sauce.
  9. Take your bowl over the top: Fresh parsley and oyster crackers are traditional toppings. You could also toss on some extra crumbled crispy bacon, sliced scallions, or fresh herbs such as basil or tarragon. If you don’t feel like oyster crackers, a handful of croutons or a few pieces of toasted crostini are always welcome, too!

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 97kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 3gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 134mgPotassium: 231mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 1704IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 20mgIron: 1mg
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Comments

  1. I followed this recipe exactly, but, I did omit the heavy cream. Also, after the bacon was done frying, I added onions to sauté until translucent and then did a roux because I added 3 tablespoons of flour at this step. I’m sorry for the changes, but I found that from another site.5 stars