I had started out making Manhattan Clam Chowder, the tomatoey, sea-scented soup that’s far removed, and much healthier, than the cream version from Bahston. After all that pork belly (I had a few bigger-than-average sized portions over the weekend), I had put myself on a diet. I wanted something flavorful, spicy, and light. I was even planning to leave out the potatoes.
But as my diets go (why-oh-why do I think starving will work?), I hadn’t eaten a thing past a banana with black coffee for breakfast, and when it got around to dinnertime, I was famished. What had I been thinking? Clams? Vegetables? Tomato broth? Why didn’t I buy those potatoes? I hadn’t even bought a loaf of bread for dipping. I needed substance. Or I would starve. (Stop rolling your eyes, ok, ok, I can be a little dramatic.)
Thankfully, I remembered I had some egg pasta in my cupboard. Manhattan Clam Pasta was born and, like most inventions created by necessity, it was even better than the original chowder would have been. The egg noodles added a buttery-starchy component that is usually absent in the chowder, thickened only by potato starch.
Being that the soup was already made and simmering (sans clams) on the stove-top, I cooked the pasta right in the liquid. Perfect, I thought as the pasta soaked up some of the liquid, making the remaining less of a soup and more of a sauce. Sometimes (however rarely) things just come together in my kitchen.
And while I’m sure I wouldn’t have starved on the clam chowder alone, I sat down to my plate of crisp bacon, buttery noodles, salty clams, earthy celery, carrots and onions, and sweet, acidic tomatoes knowing that I’d be sleeping well that night. It filled my belly but didn’t leave me stuffed—the perfect combination for a healthy diet.
Manhattan Clam Pasta
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon, sliced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 pound good, fresh chopped clams (Whole Foods sells a good brand)
- 1 (14-oz) can whole San Marzino tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 sprig or two of fresh thyme
- a good pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1/2 pound egg noodle pasta
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Drain clams, reserving liquid.
Add bacon into a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once bacon fat has rendered, remove bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve on a paper towel.
Add celery, carrots, and onion to the dutch oven. Saute until translucent and beginning to brown. Add reserved clam liquid, tomatoes, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
Add egg noodles and cook until tender.
Add chopped clams, reserved bacon, and parsley. Simmer for another minute or two. Serve.