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Spicy Manhattan Clam Chowder

A friend recently made a hearty spicy chowder for a delicious dinner party – we loved it so much, we decided to adapt it in our own DC kinda’ way!

2-3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 lb smoky bacon slices, diced (can also use pancetta)
4  carrots, peeled and medium diced (about 2 cups)
1  large onion, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
4  celery stalks, sliced into half-moons or diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
4-5  cloves garlic, finely minced
2  tsp dry oregano (fresh is great too!)
3  tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2  bay leaves
1  tsp cayenne pepper (or some red pepper flakes)
2  fresh large tomatoes, diced
2  medium-large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
4  cans Bar Harbor chopped sea clams and juice (26 ounces) – or 28 ounces fresh chopped clams
2  8-ounce bottles of Bar Harbor clam juice (or any desired brand)
2  cups of water
1  jar Due Cellucci Tomato Basil or Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce
2  large handfuls of fresh parsley, chopped – 1/2 added to final minutes of cook, rest added as a garnish at the table

(NOTE: We love spicy food – but feel free to omit (or kick up) the cayenne or red peppers if desired)

1. Heat a large soup pot over medium heat, add in olive oil, then add the diced bacon – cook a couple of minutes to render the bacon fat.

2. Add in all diced vegetables (except the potato) and sweat over medium-low heat until wilted, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.

3. Add oregano, thyme, bay leaves, minced garlic, and cayenne – give a stir.

4) Add 1 jar of Due Cellucci sauce and all fresh diced tomatoes.  Give a good stir.

5) Add both jars of clam juice and 2 cups of water.  REDUCE heat, partially cover and simmer for about 45 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

6) Add the diced potatoes and handful of chopped parsley, and continue simmering another 10-15 minutes or so.

7) Season some with salt and pepper – rest can be added to taste toward end of cooking

8) Stir in all 4 cans of chopped clams and juice, and continue to simmer another 10 minutes

9) Serve hot with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and fresh parsley for garnish, with a side of crackers or garlic bread