~ warning: this recipe is somewhat confrontational ~
Adjusting to life in New England as a Wisconsin boy has been quite a challenge for me, foodwise. I haven’t been able to find a single goddamned cheese curd in the state and for some reason whoopie pies just aren’t my thing.
Thank goddess for seafood. Eating a lobster for the first time is one of my most vividly pleasurable sensory memories. Now, you may think my love of seafood would make the geographic transition an unfettered one. But I just can’t get down with the aggressive & stubborn rejection of Manhattan clam chowder up here!
People here get downright mean purely on principal about even the hypothetical suggestion of swapping tomatoes in for cream their chowder. I don’t get it! It gets me in trouble with people. They may as well be screaming GO PATS in my face and stoning me with Narragansett cans.
Well, guess what, New England? MANHATTAN CLAM CHOWDER IS THE BOMB. It is easy to make, filling, and satisfies any craving you may have for a briny oral experience. And also it comes from Rhode Island, not Manhattan, which is IN NEW ENGLAND. CONSIDER THAT.
Manhattan Clam Chowder
olive oil or bacon fat* (fat preferable)
2 little cans chopped clams in clam juice
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes in sauce
2 fresh medium tomatoes, diced with seedy pulp squeezed out
1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced
2 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 cup chicken broth, water, or bottled clam juice (juice preferable)
2 bay leaves
crushed black peppercorns
red pepper flakes
Open clam cans & drain juice out into a bowl. Add another cup or so of broth or bottled clam juice. Set aside.
Heat up a good chunk of bacon fat or olive oil in a good soup pot. Add onions and saute well for 5+ minutes. Add garlic, bay leaves, parlsey, and spices. Saute on medium-low heat for another 5 minutes or so, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
Add fresh tomatoes and stir well. Saute for several minutes.
Add bowl of clam juice/both to pot. Bring to a gentle boil, stirring often.
Add can of tomatoes. Allow soup to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring.
Add both cans of clams to soup. Stir well and let it simmer for another 5-15 minutes.
Serve with crusty bread & enjoy!
*Whenever I make bacon, I pour the drippings into an old tuna can I keep in my freezer. Then when I’m stir frying kale or making soup or caramelizing onions, I just scoop some out with a hot spoon for a delicious bacon boost.