Manhattan clam chowder is most often recognized by its red color, coming from the use of tomatoes and tomato paste. The broth is much thinner than the thick New England version and while it also includes potatoes, most Manhattan-style chowders boast a variety of vegetables like carrots, celery, onion, and garlic for added flavor. The first recipe for “Manhattan Clam Chowder” was published in 1934 in a cookbook called Soups and Sauces by Virginia Elliott and Robert Jones. While the name “Manhattan” stuck, the soup has little to do with New York City’s most popular borough.
While it had its supporters, not everyone was a fan of the tomato-based twist on the original. In New York Cookbook, Molly O’Neill explains, “Manhattan clam chowder reverberated like an act of sabotage against the New England clam chowder tradition.” She went on to detail the outrage associated with the soup’s creation:
Manhattan clam chowder remained “a notable heresy.” In 1939 a Maine legislator introduced a bill outlawing the use of tomatoes in chowder. In 1940, Eleanor Early, lambasted the “terrible pink mixture” in her book New England Sampler. Manhattan clam chowder, she wrote, “is only a vegetable soup and not to be confused with New England Clam Chowder, nor spoken of in the same breath. Tomatoes and clams,” she wrote, “have no more affinity than ice cream and horseradish.”
Not to be left out, New Jersey has also created its own version, which is more similar to Manhattan clam chowder. It’s made with tomatoes, creamed asparagus, light cream, and bacon. It’s also seasoned with Old Bay spice, parsley, and celery powder.
Going further south to Florida, St. Augustine calls Minorcan clam chowder one of its signature dishes. This one is similar to Manhattan-style in that it’s tomato-based. However, Florida’s version includes one very unique ingredient: datil pepper. The pepper — varying in color from green to a yellowish orange — is indigenous to Cuba and was brought to Florida hundreds of years ago. It’s described as sweet, tart, and spicy, giving the soup it’s one-of-a-kind flavor. The name Minorcan refers to Florida settlers from the island of Minorca, Spain who created the hearty soup with local ingredients in their Mediterranean style.
There is also Rhode Island clam chowder, known for its clear broth and its use of quahogs, a type of clam defined by its larger size (they may weigh up to 3 pounds). In fact, the small state also has a red version of the famous soup. Unlike the Manhattan-style chowder, this one is not made with any actual tomatoes — it’s made with tomato purée— or any added vegetables.
In the Outer Banks of North Carolina, there’s a version dubbed Hatteras Island-style clam chowder — a broth-based soup that skips the cream and tomatoes. It’s commonly made with littleneck clams due to their small size and sweet flavor. The ingredients are cooked in clam juice diluted with water and brought to a boil to infuse the flavor of the clams into every bite. Classically, the dish only calls for salt and pepper as a seasoning.
There is also Cabo Clam Chowder, a South of the Border-inspired dish boasting bold Mexican flavors like chipotle. The recipe includes vegetables like onions, corns, jalapeños, and peppers, plus black beans, garlic, cilantro, cumin, and lime. Spicy flavors come from chipotle hot sauce and the dish is garnished with tortilla strips.
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped celery
2 teaspoons minced green pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups hot water
1 cup cubed peeled potatoes
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cans (6-1/2 ounces each) minced clams, undrained
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Dash cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
In a large saucepan, heat butter over low heat. Add onion, celery, green pepper and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes. Add water and potatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
Add tomatoes, clams, salt, thyme, pepper and cayenne; heat through. Stir in parsley. Serve immediately.
If you’ve never tried it please make sure to ask for it when you travel to New York
spotted in www.eater.com
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