Chef John's Manhattan Clam Chowder Manhattan clam chowder is usually very watery, too tomato-y, and not nearly clammy enough so I reworked the recipe into something significantly more rich, satisfying, and delicious. My secrets? A ton of clams, not too much tomato, and a little bit of flour to thicken things up. Serve with oyster crackers and garnish with fresh chives, parsley, tarragon, or even dill, if desired.

prep: 35 mins cook: 1 hr total: 1 hr 35 mins Servings: 6 Yield: 6 servings


  • 2 (10 ounce) cans whole baby clams, undrained
  • 2 (6.5 ounce) cans chopped clams, undrained
  • 4 strips thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup bottled clam juice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 ribs celery, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • ½ cup diced Italian tomatoes
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 pinches cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups peeled, diced Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley


    Step 1

    Drain baby and chopped clams. Reserve liquid in the refrigerator until needed and set clams aside.

    Step 2

    Place bacon in a soup pot over medium-high heat; cook and stir until well-browned and almost crispy, 7 to 10 minutes. Add onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt; cook and stir until onions start to soften and turn translucent, 5 to 7 minutes.

    Step 3

    Add tomato paste; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Don’t worry if some of the tomato paste sticks to the bottom of the pot; we want that to happen. Sprinkle in flour; cook and stir for 2 to 3 minutes.

    Step 4

    Dump in reserved clam juice plus bottled clam juice and chicken broth. Stir with a spatula, scraping the bottom of the pot to deglaze any caramelization.

    Step 5

    Add carrots, celery, clams, diced tomatoes, pepper, and cayenne; stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, skimming off some bacon fat if desired.

    Step 6

    Add diced potatoes and cook until tender but not falling apart, about 20 minutes. Taste and adjust for salt, if needed. Stir in fresh tarragon and parsley just before serving.

Chef's Notes:

The steps in my video for adding the clams and clam juice vary slightly from the written recipe. For best results, follow the written recipe.


To simplify things, you could just use six 6 1/2-ounce cans chopped clams.


Bacon is optional, but I consider it a key ingredient. If you skip it, toss in 3 to 4 tablespoons butter.


You can use fresh peeled and seeded tomatoes in place of canned, or russet potatoes in place of Yukon Golds.

Nutrition Facts

Per Serving: 375 calories; protein 45.5g; carbohydrates 31.8g; fat 6.1g; cholesterol 113.8mg; sodium 902.1mg.


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