Mention “clam chowder” and an image is likely to be conjured of a creamy broth with pieces of clam and chunks of potato, probably with a little bit of herb on top and oyster crackers at hand.
That’s New England clam chowder, though. There’s also another option, also fairly beloved by a segment of the soup-eating world. It’s Manhattan clam chowder, with a thinner, tomato-based broth and, traditionally, a greater variety of vegetable like carrots and celery.
It’s popular enough to have its own canned versions from Campbells, Progresso and other food producers. It’s found as an option on seaside menus, and not only those in the New York metropolitan area. Manhattan isn’t as popular as New England, but it’s a respectable alternative.
Most people are unfamiliar with the third alternative, though: Rhode Island clam chowder.
This is a clam-and-potato soup which has as its broth a simple clam stock, without any dairy or tomato broth. It typically includes small pieces of bacon, some celery, some onion and some herbs. Originating in (of course) Rhode Island, it’s become popular among health food aficionados as well as those who want a shot of strong seafood taste unmitigated by tomato or cream.
As the bacon is optional, it’s an unusually fast and cheap soup to make. Just be prepared, should you choose to cook up a pot, to explain to everyone who samples it that you didn’t screw up a Manhattan or New England recipe…. it was meant to taste like that.
Question of the night: What’s a favorite seafood recipe?