A delicious clam chowder with a zesty Mexican twist! This lighter version is prepared with a roasted tomato base with hints of jalapeño, cilantro and lime!
Fresh ingredients are always a good starting point when deciding what to cook. This recipe for Mexican tomato and clam chowder was inspired by my love for Manhattan clam chowder. The more popular chowder from New England is typically prepared with a cream base. But Manhattan clam chowder is tomato-based and zesty! For a heartier version, add some sliced turkey smoked sausage. This recipe is tasty as a light lunch option with a side salad or as a starter for a special dinner. Fresh clams are always the best choice, but don't hesitate to use the frozen varieties that are available.
On a baking sheet, place the tomatoes, jalapeños and red bell pepper skin side up. Also add the onion and garlic cloves. Place under the broiler for 15 to 20 minutes, removing the garlic after 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
Preheat a pot to medium heat for a few minutes. Add the bacon and saute until cooked through and crispy. Add the celery, carrots and potatoes. Season lightly with salt and pepper and continue cooking for 5-6 minutes.
Remove the skins from the broiled tomatoes and transfer to the blender. Also add the jalapeño, garlic and onion to the blender. Reserve the roasted red bell pepper. Add 2 cups of broth with a pinch of salt and pepper. Blend on high until smooth. Set aside.
To the pot with the vegetables and bacon, add the tomato paste. Mix well and let cook down for 2-3 minutes.
Add the blended sauce to the pot, along with remaining 3 cups of broth, cilantro and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Taste for salt and pepper. Cook until potatoes are cooked through and fork tender.
Remove skin from roasted bell pepper, dice and add it to the soup. Add the clams and juice of 1 lime. Cook just until warmed through. Serve right away. Garnish with cilantro, avocado, lime and hot sauce. Serve with tortilla chips or saltine crackers.
To add even more clam flavor to this tasty chowder, replace 1 cup of the chicken broth with clam juice. Another product that works well in seafood soups, stews and chowders is clamato. It is a tomato based juice that is zesty and has a mild clam flavor.