Wife Jan wanted something to go with the soda bread I was making. She decided that I had not made clam chowder in quite a while. One reason for that was that daughter Eilene has become a bit lactose intolerant. The obvious solution was to make Manhattan clam chowder.
There are those who deny that Manhattan clam chowder is even a “chowder” at all, since it is neither dairy based nor thickened with crackers. This tomato based soup with potatoes was introduced to America by Portuguese immigrants in the 1890’s. Since the original was Iberian spicing it up with Pimentón seemed the logical thing to do.
Having never made this soup before, I looked online for a list of possible ingredients. For aromatics I used the “usual suspects” of onion, celery, and garlic. Many of the recipes called for canned tomatoes, but I decided to go with fresh instead. To make a clean “clam-y” broth I chose to use only clam juice and some pureed tomatoes as my liquids. In addition to the Pimentón, a touch of thyme, pepper, and some fresh parsley completed my palate.
Karl’s Manhattan Clam Chowder
3 hot house tomatoes, separate uses (about 2 cups)
2 Tbs. butter
1 cup yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
½ tsp. Kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs. tomato paste
3 bottles (24 oz.) clam juice
1 large Yukon potato, small cubes
½ tsp. dried thyme
2 cans (13 oz.) minced clams, un-drained
¼ tsp. black pepper, cracked
Dash Pimentón de la vera picante
¼ cup fresh flat-leafed parsley, minced
1. De-seed and chop the tomatoes and put them in a bowl with the tomato jelly.
Tip: Cut the tomatoes along the equators and scrape the seeds and jelly into a sieve placed over a bowl. Press the jelly into the bowl and discard the seeds.
Note: Some people would simply leave the seeds in. Others feel that the seeds add a bitter taste to your dish. If you need to remove the seeds for medical or aesthetic reasons, you do not want to throw the baby out with the bath water. Much of a tomatoes flavor is packed into the jelly around the seeds.
2. Puree half of the tomatoes in a standing blender and reserve them for later.
Note: This is a tomato based soup, but I did not want to spend hours cooking the tomatoes down to bits.
3. Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium high heat.
4. Sauté the onions and celery with the salt until some pieces of onion are starting to get well browned, 8-10 minutes.
5. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pot, creating a bare hole in the center of the pot.
6. Put the garlic and tomato paste in two separate piles on the opposite sides of the hole in the vegetables.
Tip: You want to fry the garlic until fragrant and you want to cook the tomato paste until it has started to darken.
Note: You are cooking these two ingredients separately together.
7. Fry the garlic for one minute and then mix them into the tomato paste.
8. When the tomato paste is as dark as you like, mix it into the rest of the vegetables.
9. Add the pureed tomatoes to the pot and use the liquid to deglaze the pot.
Tip: Use some of the clam juice to rinse out the standing blender.
10. Add the rest of the chopped tomatoes, clam juice, potatoes, and thyme to the pot.
Tip: Many recipes call for peeling the potatoes, but with Yukon Golds it is not necessary.
Note: You may add some of the black pepper at this point, but much of peppers sharp flavors are in the volatile elements that are destroyed or evaporated when exposed to heat for an extended period. Almost always add your pepper at the end of the cooking time.
11. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat and cover the pot.
12. Simmer the soup for 10-15 minutes.
13. Add the clams and simmer, covered, for another 10 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
14. Stir in the pepper and parsley and serve hot with soda bread.
Tip: Garnish individual bowl with a sprig of parsley.