The Real Difference Between Manhattan And New England Clam Chowder

The New York vs. New England rivalry has been steadily building in the air for decades. The divide between Boston and Manhattan has always been one for the books, whether it's a question of who's doing better this baseball season, who has the cooler East Coast accent, or – believe it or not – who has the superior clam chowder.

Surprisingly, the famous Manhattan clam chowder doesn't actually originate from New York (we'd rather they stick to their famous pizza, anyways). Most culinary experts believe that this seafood soup came from Rhode Island fishermen who traveled back and forth from New York's fresh markets back in the 1800s. New England's clam chowder, however, has been a staple since its early days on the menu at Boston's legendary Union Oyster House (via MyRecipes).

Regardless of where you're from, you might have only ever tried one of the two. So which clam chowder is better, anyway? Just like locals might analyze the Red Sox vs. the Yankees, it's important to recognize that we have two totally different (chowder) teams at bat here.

Manhattan clam chowder is full of veggies, including tomatoes

The Rhode Island/New York version of clam chowder isn't much of a chowder at all according to the Collins Dictionary, which defines it as "a thick soup containing pieces of fish." While Manhattan clam chowder can certainly be thickened up, it's typically a broth that's free of cream and loaded with tomatoes (via Today). The Manhattan version is also much healthier since it's filled with tons of vegetables beyond just the tomatoes, such as carrots, onions, and celery, says Condé Nast Traveler.

Just the mere presence of tomatoes in Manhattan clam chowder is enough to anger any New England fish fan. According to the New England Historical Society, one Maine politician even drafted a bill to ban the use of tomatoes in chowder. State Rep. Cleveland Sleeper's request never came to fruition since it didn't make it onto the desk, but the controversy did end in a clam chowder cook-off (and a win for New England).

New England clam chowder is a creamy comfort food

When most people think chowder, odds are they imagine the New England staple. Real Simple describes the soup as thick and creamy thanks to its milk base. In most restaurants, it'll be packed with starchy potatoes, onions, and clams – never any tomatoes here!

As a matter of fact, Boston's clam chowder is so rich and filling that it's arguably one of the worst soup options out there if you're sticking to any kind of healthy diet. MyRecipes even notes that many versions of this heavy clam chowder also come packed with bacon. Sure, it's delicious, but be warned: New Englanders don't play around when it comes to their clam chowder, and they make certain that it's a true, calorie-packed comfort food.

Whether you're team tomato or team cream, there's one thing that either side can likely agree on: Chowder – no matter where it's from – isn't really chowder unless there's a ridiculous pile of oyster crackers on top.