Manhattan Clam Chowder

One of my favorite seafood soups is Manhattan Clam Chowder. I remember, as a younger girl, watching my grandmother, who would come over on Wednesdays, make this in our kitchen.  Hers was always perfect. So, I rumaged through my memory bank, what’s left of it, and came up with this recipe. It’s quite good, I have to say. I added a couple of ingredients that she never used, and it worked out pretty well.

Now, if you want this meatless, omit the bacon. But if you want that smokey undertone, by all means, add it. I also used a couple of these extremely hot peppers my mother-in-law got on our trip to Italy in the fall. And these things are HOT. So I only added two. You can replace them with hot pepper flakes, if desired.

Manhattan Clam Chowder

serves 4 to 6

  • 3 slices of bacon, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 3 to 4 potatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. hot red pepper flakes, optional
  • 28-ounce can of whole plum tomatoes, chopped well
  • 3 8-ounce jars of clam juice
  • 2 cans minced clams
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. celery salt
  • 1 tsp. thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly-ground black pepper

Heat a stock pot over medium heat. Dice the bacon and add to pot. Cook, until browned, about five minutes. If you’re omitting the bacon, use olive oil, about a tablespoon, instead.

To the pot, add the onion, celery, garlic and red pepper. Saute until softened, about three to five minutes. Season with salt and pepper while cooking.

Add the tomato paste, stir well, and cook for one minute more.

Carefully add the clam juice, canned, chopped tomatoes (I chopped mine in my food processor) and chopped potatoes. Season again with salt and pepper and add the parsley, thyme, bay leaf and celery salt.

Cook for 30 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

Add the minced clams with their juice and taste for seasoning. Cook for another five minutes.

Once it is done, remove the bay leaf and serve.



Hot & Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Well, after two weeks in Italy and one week of sulking, it’s time to get back to reality.

I don’t have anything Italian today, but how about Mexican instead?

This soup is so perfect for a cold, wet day like we’re having here in New Jersey today.  Not only is it warm and creamy, it’s nice and spicy too.  Nothing like a little spice to get you warmed up.

You can make your own broth or use canned (or boxed), it’s up to you. I was lazy today,  so I used pre-made. I bought a rotisserie chicken today since my grocery store had no bone-in breasts.  Yes, I was as shocked as  you. But, I won’t go on a rant about that right now….

Here we go….

  • 1 c. carrot, diced
  • 1 c. celery, diced
  • 1 c. onion, diced
  • 1/2 t. garlic powder or 1 garlic clove, minced

  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. pepper
  • 2 T. corn oil
  • 4 cans chicken broth
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes and chilies
  • 1 pkg. McCormick taco seasoning or Homemade Taco Seasoning

  • 6 small, corn or flour tortillas
  • 1 c. shredded chicken meat
  • 1 c. milk
  • 8 oz. Monterey or Mexican blended cheese

Saute carrots, onion, celery, garlic, salt and pepper in corn oil until tender.

Season with salt and pepper.

Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Add tomatoes, taco seasoning and chicken.

Cut tortillas into small pieces and add to broth mixture.

Let boil for 20 mins. or until tortillas are thoroughly incorporated and veggies are tender.

Reduce heat and add 8 oz. of cheese.

Add milk and simmer an additional 10 mins.

Serve piping hot with a side of corn bread and fried tortilla chips, if desired.  It’s a meal in itself.  Very satisfying. Enjoy.

I know it’s not the most beautiful-looking dish, but it really does taste good.

Lentil Soup

I learned how to make lentil soup by watching my grandmother, who would come to our house every Wednesday when my mom went to work full-time. So, she’d be cooking and I’d watch and learn from her.   I’ve modified mine a little bit from hers by adding the ham.  I like the smokey flavor it gives the soup.  If you want to keep it meatless, just omit the ham. It is still very good.

  • 1 lb. bag of dry lentils, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 lb. ham, diced (omit if keeping it vegetarian)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 5 cups water to start
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. dry parsley

In a stockpot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add carrots, celery, onion and ham.  Season with a little salt and pepper.  Sweat over medium-low heat until tender.

Add lentils, water, tomato sauce and bay leaf. Stir. Add about a teaspoon of salt and a few grindings of pepper.  Bring to a boil for about 5 minutes, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes to one hour, until lentils are soft and soup has thickened up a bit.  Check and stir occasionally.

Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.  This needs a good amount of salt.  If too much water evaporates during cooking, add more until you have a desired consistency (I added one more cup of water to get the consistency you’ll see in the bottom picture).  This soup can have a very brothy consistency to extremely thick.  Me?  I like it somewhere right in between.

Remove from heat and REMOVE the bay leaf.  You do not want to eat that!

Serve with some good rustic Italian bread and a salad for a nice, low-fat, nutritious meal.

I like making mine early in the day, so the flavors have a chance to meld and the soup will thicken upon standing.