This vegan spin on Manhattan clam chowder is made with hearty chickpeas, potatoes and veggies simmered in a savory herbed tomato base.
I was going to call this one vegan Manhattan clam chowder, but that would be just wrong. There are no clams. It’s not really chowder, even though, um…neither is conventional Manhattan clam chowder (which I have no explanation for). Also, it came out of my kitchen in southeastern Pennsylvania. So I’m calling it Manhattan Chickpea Chowder. I can handle being two-thirds wrong.
My experience with conventional Manhattan clam chowder is limited to serving it to people while I waited tables during my college years. I really didn’t find it to be the least bit appealing, but I’m sure that had something to do with the clams. One key to being good with food though is exploring foods that you don’t find appealing, figuring out what’s so unappealing about them, and then ditching that and playing up everything else. So it was really convenient that once I took the clams out of Manhattan clam chowder, I liked pretty much everything about the soup.
Tomatoes, potatoes, veggies and savory herbs are all a-okay with me. I was pretty tempted to leave the soup at that, but most of the time when I take something away, I like to replace it with something else. That’s how I ended up with chickpeas. Could I just call this veggie chickpea tomato soup? Yes, but that wouldn’t be as fun. And all those people who pick on vegan cooks for naming their dishes after non-vegan foods would have no reason to pick on me, so I opted to avoid ruining the fun.
Whatever you decide to call this, it’s pretty much perfect for dinner on a cold January night. Throw in some crusty bread and you’ve got yourself a meal.
Manhattan Chickpea Chowder
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 vidalia onion, diced
- 2 celery ribs, diced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 5-6 cups vegetable broth
- 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 14 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 small (1/2 pound) russet potato, diced
- 1-2 tablespoons white miso paste, optional, but see my note
- 1-2 tablespoons cayenne pepper hot sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
Coat the bottom of a large pot with oil and place over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, bell pepper, and garlic. Sauté for about 10 minutes, or until the veggies are tender. Add 5 cups of broth, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, oregano, red pepper flakes and bay leaf. Stir to fully dissolve the tomato paste. Add chickpeas and potato. Raise heat to high and bring to a simmer. Lower heat and allow to simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20-25 minutes. Add up to an additional cup of broth if desired.
Remove the bay leaf and remove the pot from the heat. If you're using miso, ladle a bit of the broth into a small bowl and add the miso. Stir until the miso dissolves, then pour the mixture into the pot. Taste test and season with hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
The miso paste is totally optional, but it does add a nice savory flavor to the soup. If you do include miso, make sure to use a low-sodium vegetable broth -- otherwise the soup could easily get too salty.