This Kicked-Up Manhattan Clam Chowder with Cholula Original Hot Sauce™ is super easy, comforting, and gets cooked in a single pot. Aside from love, the secret ingredient to this classic soup is Cholula Original. Everything from the briny clams, sweet peppers and acidic tomatoes gets elevated with a healthy amount of the good stuff! Think of Cholula as a conductor directing a symphony of delicious flavors! This is no ordinary hot sauce and just a little goes a long way!
The first place I ever tried Manhattan Clam Chowder was, ironically, in Florida. The only reason my family went to Florida in the first place was because my grandparents retired there after living in New York for 20ish years. I was very young when they lived in Queens and we only visited them once.
I don’t remember much about it. I have vague images of concrete steps leading up to the entrance of their apartment and a long, narrow corridor once inside. That, and a piercing memory of eating wonton soup at a hole-in-the-wall, Chinese restaurant. My grandfather absolutely loved Chinese food, and soup for that matter! Funny how that’s what I’ve held on to. My food memories are always the strongest.
After they retired to south Florida, specifically Miami, we visited my grandparents often. Anywhere from two or three times a year. It was paradise. Sun, sand and long days spending time with my favorite people on earth. The entire family was ecstatic when they made the decision to become permanent snow birds. Before long it was our second home.
Perhaps the best part of their migration was getting out and exploring the Miami restaurant scene. The food was fresh, flavorful and colourful. Not to mention the grandiose portions! There was no shortage of delicious places to eat. It was heaven!
There was one restaurant, in particular, a seafood joint perched right along the Intracoastal Waterway off of NE 163rd St (near Collins Ave) that we went to quite often. It was a short 5-minute drive from my grandparent’s condo. I wish I could recall the name but I’m drawing blanks. Unfortunately, it had a short lifespan and was gone just as quick as it came. Can’t imagine why, though. The view was great, the prices were right and the seafood was fresh. The best thing on the menu? The Manhattan Clam Chowder!
I remember the first time my grandfather and I both ordered a bowl. The soup was rich, chunky, and absolutely studded with clam meat! We sat overlooking the water and ripped into the packets of saltines it came with. We took turns plunging our crackers into the steaming bowl. Dunk by dunk we soaked up the hearty soup. Seagulls along the dock eagerly waited for us to throw crumbs at them. Clearly, they didn’t know who they were dealing with!
Up until that point, my only experience with clam chowder was the New England variety. Equally delicious but different. Whereas New England clam chowder is cream-based, Manhattan clam chowder is tomato-based. They both have their merits! I guess it just depends on your mood that day.
As mentioned, this recipe for Manhattan Clam Chowder is easy, delicious, and made in a single pot. Thanks to the canned clams and jarred clam juice, it’s even more hassle-free. Of course, feel free to use fresh clams if they are available.
The secret ingredient, and the element that puts my version over the top, is the addition of Cholula Original, which kicks the soup up to a whole ‘nother level. Rather than overpowering flavors with heavy spice, Cholula Hot Sauce elevates and enhances all of the profiles in the Manhattan Clam Chowder.
This recipe for Kicked-Up Manhattan Clam Chowder is an ode to my fond memories of eating bowls of the stuff with my grandfather! I’d give anything to relive those days and every time I help myself to a bowl, it feels like he’s right there beside me.
This recipe was created in partnership with Cholula Hot Sauce™. As always, all opinions and ideas expressed are mine alone.
Kicked-Up Manhattan Clam Chowder with Cholula
- 3 strips bacon
- 1 large white onion - diced
- 2 large carrots - diced
- 2 stalks celery - chopped
- 1 green bell pepper - diced
- 4 yellow potatoes – peeled cubed
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 10oz jar clam juice plus 4 jars water
- 2 5oz cans clams – with brine
- 1 28oz can chopped tomatoes – with juice
- 1/3 bottle Cholula Original Hot Sauce™ - plus extra for serving
- 1 6oz can tomato paste
- fresh parsley – finely chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
- Add bacon to a large Dutch oven or stockpot. Place over medium heat and cook until bacon is crispy. Add onions, carrot, celery, and green pepper. Season with a pinch of salt and sweat vegetables until softened.
- Add garlic and cook 60 seconds. Add tomato paste, stir everything to combine and cook 1-2 minutes. Add clam juice, water, clam brine, tomatoes, potatoes, thyme and bay leaves. Season with ½ tsp black pepper. Note: you may use all clam juice or a combination of clam juice and water.
- Bring everything to a steady simmer, reduce heat to med-low, cover with a lid and cook until potatoes are fork tender.
- Add clam meat and cook additional 8-10 minutes for flavors to develop.
- Season with 1/3 bottle of Cholula Original Hot Sauce™ and ¼ cup fresh parsley. Taste and adjust salt, pepper and Cholula Original as required.
- Ladle into individual serving bowls and add a few more dashes of Cholula Original for a Kicked-Up Manhattan Clam Chowder!