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Easy Manhattan Clam Chowder

This Easy Manhattan Clam Chowder is full of clams, potatoes, vegetables, and bacon in a tasty tomato broth. It’s a hearty and comforting soup that’s perfect for chilly days!

In the battle of the clam chowders – tomato-based Manhattan versus creamy New England – everyone has their favorite. I love them both. And when I want to keep things on the lighter side, Manhattan is my pick!

It’s got all of those veggies – potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and tomatoes – instead of being just mostly potatoes, and it’s brothy (there’s not a drop of cream in sight!).

Add in some sherry, herbs, bacon, and lots of clams with their juice, and you’ve got yourself one filling, flavorful, and fantastic complete meal in a bowl (although it’s also great alongside a sandwich or salad).

I love topping mine with a handful of oyster crackers (and maybe a little extra bacon too because…baaaconnn)!

Secret message to my niece, Cora: Say it for me. Just once. Pretty please????

Now, besides the deliciousness, the best part is that this Manhattan clam chowder is quick and easy to make thanks to canned clams. Ready to eat in less than an hour, it’s perfect for a weeknight dinner, for lunch, or as a first course to a seafood (or any) meal.

And I’ll let you in on a big secret…This chowder is darn good today, but holy cow, it’s even better tomorrow!

I often make mine the day before I want to serve it, because once it chills out in the fridge overnight, something magical happens, and all of those flavors meld and mellow and transform into the best red clam chowder I’ve ever had!

close-up of a spoonful of Manhattan clam chowder being lifted out of the bowl

Ingredients you need:

  • Bacon
  • Onion
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Dried thyme
  • Dried parsley
  • Garlic
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Dry sherry
  • Tomato paste
  • Bottled clam juice
  • Beef broth or stock
  • Canned diced tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Canned chopped clams (or whole clams)
  • Salt and pepper

Here’s a look at how to make Easy Manhattan Clam Chowder:

Note: This is just a quick overview of the steps. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full recipe with detailed instructions.

2 images; one of bacon cooking in a pot with text that says cook bacon in a large pot until crisp; the other of a spoonful of grease being removed from the pot with text that says remove all but 2 tablespoons grease from the pot
2 images; one of a pot of vegetables cooking with text that says add vegetables and herbs, cook until beginning to soften; the other of a spoonful of garlic and pepper flakes being added to the pot with text that says add garlic and red pepper flakes, cook for one minute
2 images; one of sherry being added to the pot with text that says add sherry and deglaze the pot, cook for one minute to reduce; the other of a spoonful of tomato paste being added to the pot with text that says stir in tomato paste, cook for one minute
2 images; one of a pot of broth and vegetables with text that says add clam juice, broth, and tomatoes; the other of potatoes being added to the pot with text that says add the potatoes
2 images; one of the pot of soup simmering with text that says bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer 'til potatoes are tender; the other of clams added to the soup with text that says stir in clams, simmer gently just until heated through

Tips & Tidbits:

  • I usually save a little bit of the bacon to use for garnish.
  • The crushed red pepper flakes add just a mild hint of heat in the background. You can leave them out if you’d like.
  • I love the rich and savory flavor of beef broth or stock in this chowder, but you can also use chicken, vegetable, or seafood broth or stock.
  • I prefer bottled clam juice, but 1 cup of the juice from the canned clams can be used instead (or you can use all of the juice from the cans if you don’t want to throw any away).
  • Use a dry sherry that you would drink (it doesn’t have to be expensive) rather than cooking wine if you can. It really makes a big difference.
  • Not into sherry? No problem! You can leave it out, and your chowder will still be yummy!
  • I like to use a waxier potato like Yukon gold, white, or red potatoes since they tend to keep their shape better (but russets are fine too if that’s what you’ve got).
  • After you add the clams, gently simmer the soup (don’t boil) until they are heated through so they don’t get tough and chewy.
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days.
  • You can freeze it for up to 2 months, but the potatoes might be slightly mushy when it is reheated.
a bowl of Manhattan clam chowder with a spoon it it topped with oyster crackers, chopped bacon, and parsley with biscuits in the background

As I said, I love to top my soup with some oyster crackers, a little extra bacon, and also some chopped fresh parsley. And the perfect side? My Easy Cheesy Garlic Biscuits, of course…which are just like those biscuits at Red Lobster. YUM!

For all you creamy New England clam chowder fans (I love that one, too!), stay tuned. I’ll be posting a recipe for it very soon (it’s just the two of us, and we ate this one for a few days, so I didn’t want to make clam chowder twice in one week!).

I hope you try this Easy Manhattan Clam Chowder recipe and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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Easy Manhattan Clam Chowder

This Easy Manhattan Clam Chowder is full of clams, potatoes, vegetables, and bacon in a tasty tomato broth. It's a hearty and comforting soup that's perfect for chilly days!
5 from 2 votes
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Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 4 large bowls (or 6 smaller bowls)
Estimated Calories: 456

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces bacon, chopped into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 cups diced onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • ½ cup dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
  • 4 cups beef broth or stock, I use 4 cups water mixed with 4 teaspoons of roasted beef base, such as Better Than Bouillon
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups peeled and diced potatoes, about ½-inch pieces
  • 4 (6.5-ounce) cans chopped clams, drained
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • In a large pot (I recommend a 5-quart pot or larger) over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove and discard all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease from the pot.
  • Add the onions, celery, carrots, thyme, and parsley to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have begun to soften, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and red pepper flakes (if using); cook, stirring constantly, for one minute.
  • Add the sherry; use a wooden spoon to scrape (deglaze) all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook for one minute to allow the sherry to reduce a bit.
  • Stir in the tomato paste; cook, stirring, for one more minute.
  • Add the clam juice, beef broth, diced tomatoes, and potatoes; increase the heat and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes and vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Stir in the clams; gently simmer (don't boil) just until they are heated through (this will keep them from becoming tough and chewy).
  • Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Notes

  • Delicious today, but even better tomorrow (I often make mine the day before)!
  • Excellent topped with oyster crackers, chopped fresh parsley, and a little extra bacon (after the bacon cooks, I put some aside for garnish).
  • I love the rich and savory flavor of beef broth or stock in this chowder, but you can also use chicken, vegetable, or seafood broth or stock.
  • Instead of bottled clam juice, you can use 1 cup of the juice from the canned clams (or you can use all of the juice from the cans if you don’t want to throw any away).
  • Use a dry sherry that you would drink (rather than cooking wine). 
  • The sherry adds great flavor, but you can leave it out if you don’t cook with alcohol. The chowder will still be yummy!
  • I like to use waxier potatoes like Yukon gold, white, or red since they tend to keep their shape better (but russets are fine too if that’s what you’ve got).
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days.
  • You can freeze it for up to 2 months, but the potatoes might be slightly mushy when it is reheated.
  • Estimated calories shown are based on 4 servings.
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it!Share it on Instagram, tag @nowcookthis and use the hashtag #nowcookthisrecipes. Thanks!

Recipe updated on 1/12/23 to increase the prep time from 10 to 15 minutes.

Recipe Rating




Suzanne

Monday 4th of December 2023

This was easy and made an nice dinner. I served it with gluten free bread and butter to "bulk" it up some. But the flavor of this soup tasted like it was simmered all day. I used chicken bone broth instead of beef broth and it was wonderful. Thanks for a great recipe!

Michelle

Monday 4th of December 2023

Thank you, Suzanne! So happy you enjoyed the chowder...I'll have to try it with the chicken bone broth sometime (sounds delicious)!

Loretta

Thursday 12th of January 2023

Wonderfully delicious!! I was given this recipe by a friend. I see the recipe now calls for sherry and tomato paste. I’m not sure if this is an update or if my friend edited the recipe. I don’t know about anybody else, but I cannot dice all these vegetables in 10 minutes. On this basis, the prep time is very understated. I have this same problem with lots of recipes.

Michelle

Thursday 12th of January 2023

Thank you, Loretta...I'm so happy you enjoyed the clam chowder! The recipe has not been updated. The sherry and tomato paste have always been in the ingredients, so maybe your friend left them out. And about the prep time, we all work at different speeds in the kitchen; I guess maybe I'm just a quick chopper, so I've increased the prep time to 15 minutes. Thanks again for your feedback!