Manhattan Fish Chowder with Garlic Ciabatta Bread

by | Mar 19, 2019 | Fish, recipes | 0 comments

What makes this Manhattan fish chowder iconic and what separates it from traditional clam chowder is the absence of cream and the addition of tomatoes. What gives this dish that extra special touch is the sauté strained, chopped tomatoes that adds concentrated flavor. The result is lighter, fresher, and more healthier. And, instead of traditional oyster crackers, we’ve added toasted garlic bread for dipping.

Manhattan Fish Chowder History of Chowder

The origin of the word “chowder” can be traced back to the sixteenth century, in the English counties of Cornwall and Devon. In the dialect of the times, the word “jowter” was used to describe hawkers, particularly fish-sellers, with later variants evolving as “chowder” and “chowter”.

Manhattan Fish Chowder

Jasper White’s “50 Chowders” cookbook lists the first and oldest-known fish chowder recipe that was originally printed in the Boston Evening Post on September 23,1751. The herbs and spices used in this recipe show the typical 18th century English cooking style.

The magazine American Notes and Queries, in 1890, noted that the dish was of French origin. In Canada, French settlers cooked a stew with clams and fish laid in courses with bacon, and sea biscuits.

Manhattan Fish Chowder

It’s also said that fish chowder, as it is known today, was started as a shipboard dish, thickened with the use of hardtack. Eventually, fish chowder was brought to North America by immigrants from English and French seafarers more than 250 years ago.

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Manhattan Fish Chowder with Garlic Ciabatta Bread

What makes this Manhattan fish chowder iconic and what separates it from traditional clam chowder is the absence of cream and the addition of tomatoes.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword chowder, cowder, fish, fish chowder, foode, foodie
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 2


  • 1 ciabatta roll
  • 1 can whole-peeled tomatoes
  • 2 oz celery
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • garlic use 2 large cloves
  • 1 ⁄4 oz fresh thyme
  • 1 large russet potato
  • 1 clam broth concentrate
  • 12 oz pollock fillets


  • Prep garlic bread: Cut ciabatta crosswise into 1⁄2-inch thick slices. Brush lightly with oil and arrange on a rimmed baking sheet.
  • Prep ingredients: Chop tomatoes in their can with kitchen shears before straining over a bowl; reserve liquid separately. Finely chop celery. Halve onion, then peel and finely chop. Peel 2 large garlic cloves and finely chop 1, leaving the other clove whole. Pick 1 teaspoon thyme leaves from stems for step 6; reserve remaining sprigs for step 3. Peel potato and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces.
  • Sauté aromatics: In a medium pot, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high. Add celery and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in chopped garlic, half of reserved thyme sprigs (save rest for own use), and a generous pinch salt and pepper, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Build soup: Add chopped tomatoes and cook until very dry, about 3 minutes. Add 2 cups water, clam broth concentrate, strained tomato liquid, 1⁄4 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of pepper, and bring to a boil. Add potatoes, cover partially, and cook over medium heat until potatoes are just tender when pierced with a knife, 10 -12 minutes.
  • Make garlic bread: Preheat broiler with top rack 6 inches from heat source. Broil bread, turning once, until golden, 1–2 minutes (watch closely as ovens vary). Halve reserved whole, peeled garlic clove and rub it over cut-sides of toasted bread; sprinkle lightly with salt.
  • Finish soup & serve: Cut pollock into 1-inch pieces and add to soup. Cover and cook just until fish flakes easily, 2–3 minutes. Remove thyme sprigs and ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with reserved thyme leaves and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with garlic bread on the side for dipping or crumbling over.