Manhattan Clam Chowder (Red Clam Chowder)
This hearty, chunky tomato-based Red Clam Chowder recipe is loaded with fresh chopped clams, tender potatoes, fennel, and smoky bacon. Also known as Manhattan Clam Chowder, this recipe is the perfect soup to warm you up on a chilly evening, to heat up for lunch, or to serve to house guests during the holiday season.
Table of contents
Why We Love This Recipe For Manhattan Style Red Clam Chowder
While you may think of Creamy New England Seafood Chowder or Rich Corn Chowder when you hear the word “chowder,” but did you know there’s also another chowder without cream known as Red Clam Chowder or Manhattan Clam Chowder? It is a hearty tomato-based, and yes red chowder. Our homemade recipe has plenty of chopped clams, chunks of tender veggies and potatoes, and a flavorful savory broth instead of milk or cream.
- This chowder is ready in 40 minutes!
- Our Red Clam Chowder uses fresh chopped shucked clams instead of canned clams.
- BUT, it can be adapted to use canned clams.
- You can also throw other veggies in there!
- It’s so perfectly hearty and delicious that it’s celebration-worthy!
- Serve it up with Whole Wheat Bread to make it a full meal.
Key Ingredients for Manhattan Clam Chowder
Fresh Shucked Clams
These chopped shucked clams are sold by the pound in brine in deli containers at the fish counter in large supermarkets, seafood markets, and meat markets. If they’re frozen, thaw them in the fridge overnight. If they’re still frozen after waiting overnight, set the deli container in a warm water bath for 30 minutes. Then, use the clams immediately. Reserve the brine that comes in the packaging for the recipe.
Can I make this chowder with Canned Clams?
You can! Just substitute in 1-1/2 cups minced canned clams, drained (or about four 6-1/2 ounce cans). If you use canned clams, do not simmer for 1 minute in step 6.
Clam Juice and Broth
For the clam juice, I used Bar Harbor brand clam juice. It’s lower in sodium than other brands, so it will make your chowder much less salty. If you can’t find Bar Harbor, no worries. Just skip the added salt, taste, and adjust your salt content at the end.
For vegetable content in this recipe, we use sweet onion, fennel, celery, and white potatoes.
Use a 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes. We love the smoky flavor fire roasted diced tomatoes add to the chowder. If you like a little bit of spice, look for those with added green chiles.
The seasonings in this chowder include minced garlic, thyme (dry or fresh), smoked paprika, celery seed, freshly ground pepper, and salt to taste. Feel free to add in bay leaf too if you have them on hand.
- Uncooked bacon, chopped
- Dry white wine (optional)
- Olive oil
How To Make Manhattan Clam Chowder
Step 1: Cook Bacon
Place the chopped bacon in the bottom of a large heavy-bottom soup pot on medium heat. Cook the bacon, stirring often until it’s crispy. This should take about 5-7 minutes. Remove the bacon pieces with a slotted spoon and place them on a plate lined with a paper towel.
Step 2: Cook Onions
Add oil to the bacon fat in your pot and then add onion, garlic, and salt. Stir the onion garlic mixture occasionally as it cooks until the onions are golden brown, about 6-8 minutes.
Step 3: Add Seasonings and Vegetables
Increase the heat to medium-high and then stir in the fennel, celery, thyme, smoked paprika, celery seed, and pepper. Cook the onion celery mixture, stirring often until the vegetables start to soften. This should take about 2 to 3 minutes.
Step 4: Add Wine
If you’re using dry white wine, add it now and bring it to a simmer over medium high heat. Cook until the wine is mostly evaporated, which should take about 2 minutes.
Step 5: Add Broth, Clam Juice, and Potatoes
Add in the broth, clam juice, and potatoes. Bring the pot’s content to a simmer and then reduce the heat to medium-low, or to maintain a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 12-14 minutes.
Step 6: Add Tomatoes and Clams
Add the tomatoes and clams, and then return to a steady simmer. Stir often and simmer for one minute. Do not overcook. Stir in the bacon and remove your soup pot from the heat. Ladle the chowder into bowls and top each serving with chopped fennel fronds. Serve hot and enjoy!
FAQs and Expert Tips
Yes! Unlike New England clam chowder, red (or Manhattan) clam chowder is dairy free. Manhattan clam chowder is tomato based and not thickened with flour or butter-based roux.
You can make the chowder base up to one day in advance (up to step 6) and then bring to a simmer and stir in the tomatoes and clams before serving. You can then store the chowder leftovers in an air-tight container for 3-5 days in the refrigerator. Reheat until steaming hot but do not boil when reheating.
Yes, you can freeze Manhattan Clam Chowder for 4-6 months. Defrost the soup by placing it in the fridge overnight and then heating it through on the stovetop.
I recommend oyster crackers and bread with both Manhattan and New Englad clam chowder. They were made for clam chowder! You can also serve it with cornbread or corn muffins, or salad, or you can serve smaller portions of the chowder with a sandwich or wrap for lunch.
Manhattan clam chowder gets its red color from tomatoes. The clear broth is tinted by the tomatoes and their juices.
It all comes down to the cream! New England Clam Chowder is made with milk and/or cream so it comes out thick and creamy. Rhode Island Clam Chowder is essentially exactly the same as its New England counterpart but it’s made without dairy so it comes out with a clear broth. Manhattan Clam Chowder (or red clam chowder!) omits dairy and is made with more tomatoes and veggies!
Origin of Manhattan Clam Chowder
Manhattan Clam Chowder came about when tomatoes became popular in the mid-1800s and the New York Italian and Rhode Island Portuguese populations started adding it to the chowder. Somewhere along the way, this version of clam chowder became popular in New York so it was dubbed Manhattan Clam Chowder.
Additional Seafood Recipes To Try
- Crab Cakes Without Mayo are a healthier take on the iconic Maryland Crab cake, and they’re perfect for a succulent weeknight dinner.
- This Crispy Pan Seared Salmon is done in 20 minutes and it was always a top request with my personal chef clients. For as many years as I’ve been making this salmon, it has always been a hit!
- With all this talk of clams and seafood, now might be a good time to learn How to Cook Mussels! Try our classic Steamed Mussels with Garlic.
- Try this Healthy Shrimp in Garlic and Lemon Sauce for a healthy, flavorful, 20-minute recipe.
Thanks so much for reading! If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my email newsletter to get a free weekly menu plan and the latest recipes right to your inbox. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you thought!
Happy Cooking! ~KatiePrint
Manhattan Clam Chowder Recipe
- Total Time: 40 mins
- Yield: 12 cups 1x
This Classic Manhattan-Style Red Clam Chowder has chunks of tender potatoes, celery and fennel and is loaded with freshly shucked clams.
- 6 slices uncooked bacon, chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups diced sweet onion
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1 bulb fennel, diced, plus chopped fronds for serving
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 teaspoon dry thyme or 2 teaspoons fresh
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon celery seed
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ½ cup dry white wine, optional
- 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 2 cups clam juice, (16 fl ounces) such as Bar Harbor brand
- 2 large white potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks
- 1 14-ounce can diced canned tomatoes* See note
- 2 cups raw shucked clams in juice* See note
- Place bacon in the bottom of a large heavy-bottom soup pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring often until the bacon is crispy, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the bacon pieces to a plate lined with a paper towel with a slotted spoon.
- Add oil to the bacon fat and add onion, garlic and salt and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Increase heat to medium-high, stir in fennel, celery, thyme, smoked paprika, celery seed and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables start to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add wine, if using, and bring to a simmer. Cook until the wine is mostly evaporated, about 2 minutes.
- Add in broth, clam juice and potatoes and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low or to maintain a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, 12 to 14 minutes.
- Add tomatoes and clams and return to a steady simmer, stirring often. Simmer 1 minute. Stir in bacon and remove from the heat. Ladle chowder into bowls and top with chopped fennel fronds. Serve hot.
Canned Diced Tomatoes: We love the smoky flavor fire roasted diced tomatoes add to the chowder. If you like a little bit of spice, look for those with added green chiles.
Shucked Clams: These chopped shucked clams are sold by the pound in brine in deli containers at the fish counter in large supermarkets, seafood markets, and meat markets. Sometimes they’re frozen. Thaw in the fridge overnight. If still frozen, set the deli container in a warm water bath for 30 minutes and use immediately. Include the packing brine in the recipe.
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Active Time: 30 mins
- Cook Time: 40 mins
- Category: Soup
- Method: Stove Top
- Cuisine: Seafood
- Serving Size: 2 cups
- Calories: 362
- Sugar: 9 g
- Fat: 15 g
- Carbohydrates: 26 g
- Fiber: 4 g
- Protein: 32 g
Keywords: manhattan clam chowder, red clam chowder, manhattan-style chowder
This recipe was awesome. I can’t eat the cream based chowder so this was the perfect alternative. Made it for Christmas Eve and everyone loved it.
Love this soup! Great recipe. Thanks!
Thank you so much, Luci! Have a wonderful weekend!
Your Red Clam Chowder is just in time for January! Thanks for sharing!
It’s wonderful for those chilly nights inside. Thanks, Charles!
Love this soup! I’ve made creamy clam chowder so many times, this was a first (Manhattan style) and it turned out beautifully. Nice change of pace!
Oh I am absolutely thrilled to hear that, Dana! Happy cooking!
Amazing combination of flavors in the recipe. Thanks for sharring
I really appreciate the kind words! Have a great weekend.
I haven’t had clam chowder in so long! Can’t wait to try this recipe soon. 🙂
Let me know how it goes, Carrie!