Recipe By Chef John
Published Sep 22nd
Prep 35m Cook 1h Additional - Ready In 1h 35m
Servings 6 servings Calories 374.5

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.

Recipe Ingredients

  • 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

Cooking Directions

  1. 1 Drain baby and chopped clams. Reserve liquid in the refrigerator until needed and set clams aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories 374.5
  • Carbohydrate 31.8 g
  • Cholesterol 113.8 mg
  • Fat 6.1 g
  • Fiber 3.1 g
  • Protein 45.5 g
  • Saturated Fat 1.2 g
  • Sodium 902.1 mg
  • Sugar 4 g

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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.


  1. I signed up just to rate this recipe. Its fantastic. I followed the recipe as he wrote it with the only exception, I couldn't find tarragon in my local store so I left it off (its optional anyway). I even gave some to my neighbors who love it as well and asked for the recipe.
  2. FAR SUPERIOR to NECC (new england clam chowder). Best soup I've ever tasted. Followed the directions and this just turned out amazing. Can't wait to make it [again] for my kids.
  3. Loved the clamyness (is that a word?) Anyhoo, I added 2 small hunks of parmesan rind and used home made bacon. Otherwise I stuck to the recipe and thought C.J. was right. It was much better than the red water I got in so many east coast diners. Thanks Chef John!
  4. Made this today. Neither my wife nor I have ever had Manhattan clam chowder and we loved this! Thanks, Chef John!
  5. Super Tasty! I had my parents over tonight and they brought my grandparents and little sister. Everyone loved it! Even my wife who hates sea food-especially clams.
  6. Really great recipe, so glad I tried it. perfect spice and flavor. The house smelled great as this cooked. Served with fresh rolls from Publix bakery. Will make again soon.
  7. Made this for my inlaws and to say it received rave reviews would be an understatement. As Chef John promised, it is hearty and flavorful, unlike the tomato broth that defines a typical Manhattan Clam Chowder. I made it true to the original recipe. "And as always ... Enjoy!"
  8. There are two things I cannot tolerate - intolerance, and lactose. Never been a big fan of New England Chowder, and frankly the Manhattan versions I've had are never "rich" enough. This one seems to hit all the perfect spots. Just tomato-y enough, thick, very clam-y and yet well balanced overall. Can't wait to try - Read more ...
  9. Loved the hint of tarragon. Now it’s my favorite over even New England style. Great recipe! Lots of clams also.