It was one of the many, many extreme winter days my lovely state of Illinois has experienced this year.  The wind was howling, the snow was blowing, and the temperatures were dipping below zero.  The wind chill was clocking in at -34 and the next day the weather was going to be even worse.

When the Pot speaks…I listen.

For a little while now my wife and I have been dabbling in the paleo diet/lifestyle (not, probably, as strictly as we should, but dabbling is better than diving head first into a grease vat) so I went in search of paleo-approved soup recipes and came across a Manhattan clam chowder recipe.  

Okay look, I’ve always been a Boston Clam Chowder kind-of guy.  Give me thick, creamy chowder with hunks of potato and a half-loaf of crusty bread to wipe my bowl clean and count me one happy sum bitch.  That Manhattan swill with it’s hoity-toity tomato base had no place in my culinary world.

But now, you know, getting older, trying to treat my body more like a temple then a low-rent strip joint,  etc.. so I gave this recipe from Cave Girl Cuisine a try.

How’d it turn out? Well, after eating my first bowl I sat back and  found myself face-to-face with a serious moral dilemma.  For more than just a moment, I considered tossing my ethics aside, forgetting that I found this recipe on-line, and taking credit for the soup myself.

Hey, when a cup of chowder makes you question your ethics, you know that’s a damn fine bowl of soup.

ingredientsA word of caution before tantalizing yourself with the ingredients– if you’re short on time this recipe is not for you.  This is a soup recipe, jack–one that you make when you have nothing else to do and can’t get out of the house.  It’s a lot of chopping and cutting, but it’s worth it.

Manhattan Clam Chowder from Cavegirl Cuisine (


  • 3 pieces of applewood smoked bacon, cut in 1-inch strips

  • 1 medium onion, diced

    Bacon and I won't say anything else...
    Bacon and I won’t say anything else…
  • 2 celery stalks, diced

  • 1 red pepper, diced

  • 1 tablespoon ghee or organic, unsalted butter

  • 1.5 cups peeled and diced parsnips (approx. 2 medium)

  • 28 oz can whole tomatoes (including juice)

  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper

  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 cups chicken broth

  • 10 oz can whole baby clams, including juice

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated


  1. In a heavy-bottomed pot (or Dutch Oven), cook bacon on medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add onion, celery, red pepper and butter. Continue to cook until onions are translucent.

  2. Add tomatoes (including the juice), thyme, parsley, oregano, bay leaf, red pepper

    All kinds of goodness.
    All kinds of goodness.

    flakes, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for another 5 minutes smooshing the tomatoes as it cooks.

  3. Add parsnips, clams (including juice), garlic, chicken broth and grated carrot.

  4. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover. Simmer for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors to marry and allow the parsnips to become tender. Serve and garnish with optional fresh thyme leaves.

  5. Enjoy!

And “enjoy” you will…

With your first bite, you’ll start off catching the sweetness of the veggies and the clams.  I was a little nervous about the tomatoes becoming two acidic.  When I make chili, for instance, I always add a little brown sugar to tame that acid.  The natural sugars from the veggies work just fine here, though.  Following that little touch of sweetness, you’ll catch the smokiness of the bacon. and finally it will finish with the mellow heat of the red pepper.

The consistency was a surprise, too.  I was expecting it to be a little more watery but it had, maybe because of the butter and the fat from the bacon (yes I know butter isn’t really Paleo but close enough) a hearty richness and the perfect bit of thickness..

Maybe not the greatest picture...
Maybe not the greatest picture…

The only actual change I made to the recipe was to double it so that I had left overs.

That was the best damn thing I ever did let me tell you, sitting in the glow of my electric fireplace with a bowl of this in my hand and the snow swirling outside, made me one toast and happy man.

Also, make sure you take a look and maybe even bookmark Cave Girl Cuisine. Whether you’re going Paleo or just enjoy good food, there are a ton of fabulous recipes at this site.  There’s also an e-mail sign up where they’ll send you new recipes.

Again, that address is  Wait until you see the recipes scrolling across the banner…

Looking forward to trying many more recipes from this site. Try this soup and trust me, you will too…

Take care.