Although New England Clam Chowder (the white creamy version) is probably more popular, Manhattan Clam chowder is equally delicious. More like an Italian soup, this tomato based clam chowder makes a great winter dish. Traditional recipes often require cooking fresh clams and using the cooking broth in the chowder (which is fine if you have the time) but I find that using canned clams and bottled clam juice makes this recipe more manageable, without sacrificing taste or quality. Bal Harbor clam juice is available in most grocery stores and has great flavor. It’s made from steaming whole, premium clams and is triple-filtered. (check out their products here - http://www.barharborfoods.com. This soup will keep refrigerated for up to 2 days, and the flavors continue to meld. Reheat over a low heat, and make sure not to boil the chowder, which can toughen the clams.
5 cans clams (6 1/2 ounces each), chopped, juice drained and reserved
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
1 medium carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, chopped small
5 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon freshly chopped oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons freshly chopped thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ cup dry white wine
3 (8-ounce) bottles Bar Harbor clam juice
1 ¼ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 large bay leaf
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
Salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1. Heat the oil over medium-low heat until shimmering. Add the onion, red pepper, carrot, and celery, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until vegetables soften, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, thyme, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
2. Add the wine and raise heat to high. Boil the wine until it reduces by half, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the reserved canned clam juices, 3 bottles clam juice, potatoes, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the potatoes are almost tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, smash a few potatoes against the side of the pot. Simmer to release potato starch, about 2 minutes.
4. Add the tomatoes, bring back to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in the reserved chopped clams and season with salt and pepper to taste; discard the bay leaf. (Chowder can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Warm over low heat until hot.) Stir in parsley and ladle the chowder into individual bowls. Serve immediately.