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Manhattan vs New England Clam Chowder


The Clam Shack Clam Chowder

Mmm…chowdah! Whether we’re dining at a seafood shack on vacation, eating our way through the local fish market, or indulging in a night out at a seafood restaurant, we can’t resist a warm cup or bowl of clam chowder. This savory seafood soup is chowdah this world.

Whether it’s classic New England Clam Chowder, a comforting mix of milky-white soup and briny clams, or Manhattan Clam Chowder, a heart tomato-based soup with salty, chewy clams, we love to chow down on seafood chowder as an appetizer or main meal. 

Add some crusty, chewy bread or crispy, tiny hexagonal oyster crackers, and we’re in food heaven.

Read More: What is Clam Chowder?

What is Manhattan Clam Chowder?

Manhattan Clam Chowder is instantly distinguished by its red broth. Its tomato-based broth is made from tomatoes and tomato paste. Tomato-based chowders were first created in Portuguese fishing communities in Rhode Island and by Italian immigrants living in New York City. The first recipe appeared in an early 20th century cookbook. 

Manhattan Clam Chowder is made with:

  • Bacon or salt pork
  • Butter
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Clams like cherrystone, chowder, and littleneck
  • Clam broth
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Potatoes
  • Seasonings and spices like black, green, and red pepper, thyme, and parsley
  • Tomatoes
  • Tomato paste

What is New England Clam Chowder?

New England Clam Chowder has a rich, creamy, and soft cream- or milk-based broth. This chunky white soup is also called Boston clam chowder. Most clam chowder soups are made of the following ingredients:

  • Bacon or salt pork
  • Butter
  • Celery
  • Clams like cherrystone, chowder, and littleneck
  • Clam broth
  • Heavy cream (or cream or whole milk)
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Seasonings and spices

The concept of seafood chowder was introduced by immigrants in the 18th century. The recipe for New England’s own version grew from there.

Splash Cafe Award Winning Clam Chowder
Splash Cafe | Award Winning Clam Chowder
Smokehouse Seafood Chowder Sampler
SeaBear Smokehouse Seafood | Chowder Sampler

What is the Difference Between Manhattan and New England Clam Chowder?

The difference between Manhattan Clam Chowder and New England Clam Chowder is the broth. Manhattan Clam Chowder has a tomato-rich, red broth. New England Clam Chowder has a creamy, often thick white broth. Manhattan Clam Chowder has a thinner and clearer broth too.

Both chowders contain plump, briny quahog clams, which are Atlantic hard-shell clams. Each soup usually contains soft onions, sliced celery, and cubed potatoes. Each has seasonings like black pepper to enhance the soup’s flavor.

Iggy's Chowder Choose Your Own
Iggy’s Chowder | Manhattan Red, New England White, Rhode Island Clear Chowder
Kent Island Crab Cakes Seafood Soup Sampler
Kent Island Crab Cakes | Seafood Soup Sampler

Which is Healthier Manhattan or New England Clam Chowder?

Manhattan Clam Chowder is healthier than New England Clam Chowder. Manhattan Clam Chowder is lower in calories and fat. It is more nutritious thanks to its vitamin-rich tomato-based broth and abundance of veggies. 

New England clam chowder is higher in calories and fat because of its heavy cream-based broth. 

Both soups have lots of clams, which are rich in nutrients like omega-3s, iron, vitamin B12, and protein. However, chowders of all kinds tend to be high in sodium. Swapping out higher calorie ingredients in homemade chowder recipes can lower the amount of calories and fat.

What is the Most Popular Clam Chowder?

New England Clam Chowder is the most famous and most popular clam chowder. It’s been around for centuries, so it’s possible its longevity has contributed to its popularity. It’s also thick and velvety, making it a comforting palate-pleaser, particularly on cold days.

When Manhattan Clam Chowder was first introduced, it was controversial because of its combination of tomatoes and clams. 

In 1939, a Maine legislator unsuccessfully tried to have a bill passed that would prohibit the use of tomatoes in clam chowder. Chef James Beard (yes, the James Beard of the James Beard Awards) called this clam and vegetable soup “horrendous.” 

Despite the criticism, Manhattan clam chowder has endured.

Most Famous Seafood Chowders

We love to spoon! The most famous seafood chowders are made with the freshest seafood and most delicious soup bases — all shipping nationwide on Goldbelly!

Legal Sea Foods Marketplace’s New England Clam Chowder

Legal Sea Foods’ chowder embodies their motto of “If it isn’t fresh, it isn’t Legal!” Their creamy New England Clam Chowder is so superior, it has been served at U.S. presidential inaugurations for decades. 

Each spoonful contains tender New England clams, light cream, potatoes, fish stock, and seasonings.

Watch Pike Place Chowder on Goldbelly TV

Pike Place Chowder’s New England Clam Chowder

Since Larry Mellon opened Pike Place Chowder inside Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market, his soup shop has sold more than 3 million bowls of New England Clam Chowder. Each bowl is brimming with clams, bacon, celery, onions, and potatoes in a rich base of clam soup, clam juice, and Half & Half.

Luke’s Lobster New England Clam Chowder

Luke’s Lobster’s New England Clam Chowder

New York City’s Luke’s Lobster is known for its traditional Maine lobster rolls, but founder Luke Holden and his team also make incredible New England Clam Chowder. Their award-winning New England Clam Chowder is overflowing with wild Atlantic clams, potatoes, onions, and cream.

Coming in hot. Order soup-erb seafood chowders plus shop our Soup Sale shipping nationwide on Goldbelly!

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