I make several versions of “Manhattan Clam Chowder,” none of which is particularly authentic, but then again, this is a soup named for Manhattan. Of all places in the world, this is the one where everyone belongs and everyone is unique, if not downright quirky. So consider this a mandate to scoff at tradition and do it your way.
This version doesn’t use bacon and relies heavily on vegetable gusto.
Manhattan Clam Chowder (without bacon)
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 cup onion, peeled and chopped fine
3-5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
½ cup red pepper, chopped fine
½ Cup carrot, peeled and chopped (first in quarters lengthwise, then in thin slices)
½ Cup celery stalks, peeled and sliced into small chunks
Two medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into ½ inch squares
4 cups vegetable juice (low sodium preferred)*
1 bay leaf
Four 5.5 oz cans of chopped clams, juices reserved
1 Tbs dried oregano (2 Tbs fresh, chopped)
1 Tbs dried parsley (2 Tbs fresh, chopped)
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a large pot at medium high until fragrant and very liquid. Stir in onions to coat, lower heat to medium and add red pepper and garlic. Cook an additional minute. Add carrots and celery and cook until beginning to get tender, about five minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add potatoes and stir to coat, then add vegetable juice, bay leaf, and reserved clam juice. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add clams, oregano, and parsley and cook for an additional five minutes. Add salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Serve with oyster crackers or saltines and spike with sriracha, Tabasco or other red pepper-based hot sauce.
*If you happen to have an additional bottle of clam juice in the pantry, you may substitute a cup of the vegetable juice with the bottled clam juice to pump up the briny flavor