Soup Time: Manhattan Clam Chowder

Manhattan Clam ChowderIt’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.

Geoduck at Taylor Shellfish, Seattle

Geoduck at Taylor Shellfish, Seattle

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.

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