It’s cold and damp out there. Soup weather. Now, soup is not that complicated to make so don’t be scared of making it from scratch. I hadn’t made any in a while (because it was summer) and since Cheryl and I sampled some really good chowder in Seattle last weekend I decided to make a pot of Manhattan Clam Chowder to warm us up this week.
Neither of us had ever been to Seattle so we were looking forward to exploring a new city and eating some really fresh seafood. We ended up having a great lunch at Taylor Shellfish Melrose Market which included some delicious Pacific oysters but also, and more importantly for this tale, had a couple of chowders. This week’s inspiration came from their Manhattan Style Geoduck Chowder. What’s geoduck (gooey-duck) you ask? A large salt water clam with a long siphon on it, native to, and abundant in the Pacific Northwest. Since they’re not so abundant here in Chicago and I didn’t want to carry any back with me on the plane I substituted regular clams.
This recipe comes from my mom’s books but I added a couple of things and beefed up the volume a bit so we could have extra. The great thing about making soups is you can add pretty much whatever you have sitting around to your base. I added some parsnips and potatoes to this as well as almost doubling the amount of tomatoes. I like to use whole canned tomatoes, crush the tomatoes roughly with my hands, and add to the soup with all of the juices. It’s a really easy quick soup which you can easily turn into just a vegetable soup if you omit the clams (add some more water or stock in place of the clam juice). I think it took me about 30 minutes to put it all together.
Manhattan Clam Chowder (6-8 servings)
- 2 oz bacon, diced
- ¼ C onion, minced
- 3 cans of chopped clams with juice reserved
- 2 C potatoes, small dice
- ½ C carrots, small dice
- ½ C parsnips, small dice
- 1 C water
- 1 celery rib, small dice
- 1 can of whole tomatoes (28 oz) crushed by hand, or just use crushed tomatoes
- ½ tsp thyme
- 2 tsp parsley
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground pepper
In a large pot over medium-high heat cook the bacon and onion for a few minutes then add the carrots and parsnips. Cook until the bacon is crisp and the vegetables start to caramelize.
Add the clam juice, water, celery, and potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook until the potatoes begin to soften.
Add the clams, tomatoes, and seasonings. Bring chowder back to a boil for 5 minutes.
Serve hot in bowls with oyster crackers or croutons.