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Chowder and it's Iterations.


Chowder is a thick soup prepared with milk or cream, a roux, and seafood or vegetables. Oyster crackers or saltines may accompany chowders as a side item, and cracker pieces may be dropped atop the dish. New Englandclam chowder is typically made with chopped clams and diced potatoes, in a mixed cream and milk base, often with a small amount of butter. Other common chowders include seafood chowder, which includes fish, clams, and many other types of shellfish; lamb or veal chowder made with barley; corn chowder, which uses corn instead of clams; a wide variety of fish chowders; and potato chowder, which is often made with cheese. Fish, corn, and clam chowders are popular in North America, especially New England and Atlantic Canada.



Some kinds of chowder aren't distinguishable from each other until you take a bite and find out what ingredients are included or what the texture is like. Other chowders, in contrast, are immediately recognizable by looks alone. Consider Manhattan clam chowder. This bold, sunset-colored dish makes its mark the moment you see it. Its bright red color comes from its tomato-based broth, which you won't find in its New England or Rhode Island cousins. How did this arresting take on the classic soup come to incorporate such a unique ingredient?


New England clam chowder is probably the most popular and widely-recognized version of the classic dish. More often than not, if you sit down at a restaurant and see clam chowder on the menu, it's talking about this variety. This complex soup has a distinctively American history, dating as far back as the 19th century. Though its roots are, obviously, in New England, you can find it in dining establishments across the United States, from simple seafood shacks to high-end restaurants. Native New Englanders still claim that the best chowders in the country are right in their own backyard, however — and they're probably not wrong, as even brief visitors to this region can attest. Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut all know how to make a mean clam chowder.


Whether you look forward to it as a go-to appetizer every time you step foot in a seafood restaurant or you've just happened to notice how often restaurants offer it on Fridays, chowder has been a staple at many dining establishments all over the world for many, many years. You might think of it as a fairly modern dish, but in fact, its history goes back much further than your local seafood shack. This dish has a heritage that can be traced back to the early 1800s. The word chowder even predates that era: It's based on the French word chaudière, which means cauldron — the vessel in which the earliest chowders were likely made. The use of such an archaic instrument hints at how old this delicious meal truly is.



When we think about chowder, most of us immediately think of thick and creamy New England clam chowder. Some might also think of its redder cousin, Manhattan clam chowder. But the world of chowder is much more vast than those two dishes. It can include virtually any kind of ingredient, if the chef puts their mind to it — and we mean any. Traditionally, chowder is indeed considered to be a seafood dish. But if you cast your gaze far enough, you can find examples of chowders containing other kinds of meat, as well as vegetarian varieties with no meat at all. Get ready to take some notes, because your perception of this beloved dish is about to expand. This is the ultimate guide to different kinds of chowder.


Manhattan clam chowder

Some kinds of chowder aren't distinguishable from each other until you take a bite and find out what ingredients are included or what the texture is like. Other chowders, in contrast, are immediately recognizable by looks alone. Consider Manhattan clam chowder. This bold, sunset-colored dish makes its mark the moment you see it. Its bright red color comes from its tomato-based broth, which you won't find in its New England or Rhode Island cousins. How did this arresting take on the classic soup come to incorporate such a unique ingredient?

As it turns out, the Manhattan variety of clam chowder came about in the late 1800s, when Italian and Portuguese immigrants came to New York City. They sought to include tomatoes, a culinary staple in their cultures, in their seafood stews. The chowder that was born from this desire was an instant hit for some, but not everyone was an ardent fan. Maine representative Cleveland Sleeper once tried to introduce a bill — that's right, an honest to goodness bill — that would have banned tomatoes from being used as an ingredient in clam chowder. This might have come out of fierce loyalty to New England clam chowder, which contains no tomatoes whatsoever. It might have come from an intense aversion to the red fruit. Regardless, Manhattan clam chowder remains a seafood mainstay at many restaurants, so Representative Sleeper's argument clearly had no legs.



New England clam chowder


New England clam chowder is probably the most popular and widely-recognized version of the classic dish. More often than not, if you sit down at a restaurant and see clam chowder on the menu, it's talking about this variety. This complex soup has a distinctively American history, dating as far back as the 19th century. Though its roots are, obviously, in New England, you can find it in dining establishments across the United States, from simple seafood shacks to high-end restaurants. Native New Englanders still claim that the best chowders in the country are right in their own backyard, however — and they're probably not wrong, as even brief visitors to this region can attest. Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut all know how to make a mean clam chowder.



So, how do you know you're eating a New England clam chowder, as opposed to other varieties? The simplest way to tell is by considering the thickness of the broth. New England clam chowder is usually thick and creamy, unlike thinner, more watery varieties, like that of Rhode Island. New England Clam Chowder also universally comes with clams and potatoes mixed into its creamy base, though you may spot other ingredients from time to time, including bacon bits and celery ribs. Whatever you do, do not forget to use the packet of oyster crackers offered on the side. They bring a nice crunch to an otherwise soft and creamy soup.


Many of the most popular chowders feature clams as the primary protein. However, not all marine-centric chowders require that particular ingredient. Seafood chowder, for example, can use any combination of ocean critters, from shrimp to codfish to smoked fish. Consider Irish seafood chowder. It's typically lighter than a traditional New England clam chowder, though it still has a creamier base than, say, Rhode Island clam chowder. Keep in mind, though, that you may also run into seafood chowders that are simply clam chowders under another name. Think of it like squares and rectangles: All clam chowders are seafood chowders, but not every seafood chowder is a clam chowder.


Long Island clam chowder

If you're from the northeastern United States, then you're probably most familiar with New England, Rhode Island, and Manhattan clam chowders. Each offers a different flavor and texture profile, and can be customized with any number of added ingredients. This gives you all kinds of choices when it comes to making your own chowder at home. But believe it or not, there is a fourth kind of chowder that makes a reference to another region of the northeastern United States: the Long Island clam chowder.


Don't be mistaken in thinking that the Long Island variety incorporates some sort of complicated string of ingredients far different than any other kind of chowder. On the contrary, Long Island clam chowder is essentially the love child of the New England and Manhattan varieties, both in its ingredients and in its name. It's most distinguished by its creamy tomato broth. This may seem like sacrilege to some, but it's gained traction over the years, especially in its home region. As the name suggests, the origins of Long Island clam chowder lie in Long Island, where the best versions are still made. Those looking for the potent tang of tomatoes without sacrificing the richness of cream should seek it out ASAP.


Rhode Island clam chowder

One of the more popular chowder varieties is Rhode Island clam chowder. It is, as you might expect, nearly identical to the New England variety in terms of ingredients. There's really only one major difference, but it's a big one: While New England clam chowder is thick and creamy, Rhode Island clam chowder is thinner and significantly more watery. Here, you won't find generous usage of heavy cream or milk — although, depending on where you order this particular kind of chowder, you may enjoy a splash or two of cream added to the broth just prior to serving. If so, it's a tiny bit harder to distinguish Rhode Island clam chowder from New England clam chowder. But once you've had a few spoonfuls, you'll be able to tell — a single glug of cream isn't the same as a whole helping.



Just like its New England cousin, Rhode Island clam chowder uses potatoes, celery, bacon, and, of course, clams. Its origin is said to date back even earlier than that of New England or Manhattan chowders: This delicious dish was being made before the 1880s. Today, you will primarily find Rhode Island clam chowder in its namesake state, along with neighboring Connecticut, where it may sometimes appear on menus as Noank chowder.


Corn chowder

Many of the most famous chowders use different kinds of seafood as their protein of choice. But even though fish, clams, and shrimp dominate these attention-grabbing variations, don't go thinking you have to use them to make a proper chowder. One of the clearest examples of this is corn chowder. Though this dish can include all kinds of ingredients, none of them are seafood. You might find chicken or bacon in a corn chowder, or you might not find any animal proteins at all, as the name implies. Either way, you can be sure of something: There will be corn, and it will be delicious. Those interested in vegetarian or vegan stews should pay close attention to this toothsome dish.



Like many other corn-derived dishes, corn chowder became prominent in regions where the crop is plentiful, particularly during the harvest seasons. Over time, cooks started to develop new ways of creating this dish, incorporating their own special ingredients and techniques. Today, as a result, there are many different versions of corn chowder. All of them are delicious, though cooks should be careful to use the freshest ingredients possible. There really are no shortcuts here, in that sense, especially when it comes to the corn itself. As a result, corn chowder is an excellent summertime dish.


Seafood chowder

Many of the most popular chowders feature clams as the primary protein. However, not all marine-centric chowders require that particular ingredient. Seafood chowder, for example, can use any combination of ocean critters, from shrimp to codfish to smoked fish. Consider Irish seafood chowder. It's typically lighter than a traditional New England clam chowder, though it still has a creamier base than, say, Rhode Island clam chowder. Keep in mind, though, that you may also run into seafood chowders that are simply clam chowders under another name. Think of it like squares and rectangles: All clam chowders are seafood chowders, but not every seafood chowder is a clam chowder.



Seafood chowder dates back to the early 1800s, like many of the other chowders mentioned on this list. The earliest signs of this chowder can be found in two European regions: Brittany, France and Cornwall, England. Like most other chowders, it has been widely adopted in American culture, where many different variations have come into existence. Depending on who you ask, all of the traditional clam chowders fall under the category of seafood chowder. What truly differentiates the two kinds of chowders is the presence of other kinds of seafood, like fish or shrimp.


As history marches on, all kinds of foods with distinct cultural heritages spread from place to place. Such voyages change the dishes in question, as they're adapted and interpreted all around the world. While most common types of chowder are American staples, that definitely doesn't mean the United States is the only place you'll find the dish. In fact, since chowder's origins can be traced back to Europe hundreds of years ago, it should come as no surprise that there are many distinctly European chowders. One of the most commonly enjoyed is called finnan haddie chowder.


While you can make chowder with virtually any kind of seafood and simply call it seafood chowder, some ingredients merit their own category. Like clams, these proteins distinguish themselves by totally transforming the dish into something that stands on its own. So it goes with salmon chowder. Unlike generic white fish, salmon doesn't fade into the background: It asserts itself front and center. Thus, chowder made with salmon becomes salmon chowder, rather than seafood chowder with salmon.



That's all folks! Happy hump day, maybe think about putting together a nice CHOWDER for dinner...the soup that eats like a meal. No room for recipes today, but consider joining as a member to access our extensive recipe database, and culinary cooking programs

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