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Clam chowder

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Title: Clam chowder  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Cuisine of New England, Chowder, Clam, List of seafood dishes, List of American foods
Collection: American Cuisine, Clam Dishes, Cream Soups, Fish and Seafood Soups, Regional Dishes of the United States
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Clam chowder

Clam chowder
New England clam chowder.
Type Chowder
Place of origin United States of America
Region or state New England
Main ingredients Clams, broth, butter, potatoes and onions
Variations New England Clam Chowder, Boston Clam Chowder, Manhattan Clam Chowder, Rhode Island Clam Chowder, others
Cookbook: Clam chowder 

Clam chowder is any of several chowders containing clams and broth. Along with the clams, diced potato is common, as are onions, which are occasionally sautéed in the drippings from salt pork or bacon. Celery is frequently used. Other vegetables are uncommon, but small carrot strips might occasionally be added, primarily for color. A garnish of parsley serves the same purpose. Bay leaves are also sometimes used as a garnish and flavoring. It is believed that clams were added to chowder because of the relative ease of harvesting them.[1]

Clam chowder is often served in restaurants on Fridays in order to provide a seafood option for those who abstain from meat every Friday, which once was a requirement for Catholics before liturgical changes in Vatican II. Though the period of strict abstinence from meat on Fridays was reduced to Lent,[2] the year-round tradition of serving clam chowder on Fridays remains.


  • Primary variants and styles 1
    • New England clam chowder 1.1
    • Manhattan clam chowder 1.2
    • Rhode Island clam chowder 1.3
    • New Jersey clam chowder 1.4
    • Delaware clam chowder 1.5
    • Hatteras clam chowder 1.6
    • Minorcan clam chowder 1.7
  • Other variations 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Primary variants and styles

New England clam chowder

Traditional New England clam chowder is thickened with oyster crackers, instead of flour.

New England clam chowder is a milk or cream-based chowder, and is traditionally of a thicker consistency than other regional styles, commonly made with potatoes, onion, and clams. Including tomatoes is shunned; a 1939 bill making tomatoes in clam chowder illegal was introduced in the Maine legislature.[3] It is occasionally referred to as Boston Clam Chowder in the Midwest.

New England clam chowder is usually accompanied with oyster crackers. Crown Pilot Crackers were a popular brand of cracker to accompany chowder, until the product was discontinued in 2008. Crackers may be crushed and mixed into the soup for thickener, or used as a garnish.[4]

Manhattan clam chowder

Manhattan clam chowder

Manhattan clam chowder has red broth, plus tomato for flavor and color. In the 1890s, this chowder was called "New York clam chowder" and "Fulton Fish Market clam chowder." Manhattan clam chowder was referenced in Victor Hirtzler's 1919 "Hotel St. Francis Cookbook." The addition of tomatoes in place of milk was initially the work of Portuguese immigrants in Rhode Island, as tomato-based stews were already a traditional part of Portuguese cuisine.

Rhode Island clam chowder

The traditional Rhode Island clam chowder has a clear broth and is called "South County Style," referring to the local name of Washington County, Rhode Island, where it originated. This chowder is still served, especially at long-established New England restaurants and hotels, such as those on Block Island, and on the south coast of the state, where tourists favor white chowders while natives prefer the clear. This traditional clear chowder generally contains quahogs, broth, potatoes, onions, and bacon.

In some parts of the state, a red chowder is served as Rhode Island clam chowder. This red chowder has a tomato broth base and potatoes; unlike Manhattan red chowder, it does not have chunks of tomato, and does not contain other vegetables (such as carrots or beans). This is the recipe served for decades with clamcakes at the memorable establishments like Rocky Point and Crescent Park.

New Jersey clam chowder

Its primary ingredients are bacon, onion, chowder clams, potatoes, pepper, celery powder, parsley, Old Bay seasoning, asparagus, light cream, and sliced tomatoes.

Delaware clam chowder

This variety typically consisted of pre-fried cubed salt pork, salt water, potatoes, diced onions, quahogs, butter, salt, and pepper. This variety was more common in the early and mid 20th century and likely shares most recent common ancestry with New England clam chowder.

Hatteras clam chowder

Served throughout North Carolina's Outer Banks region, this variation of clam chowder has clear broth, bacon, potatoes, onions, and flour as a thickening agent. It is usually seasoned with copious amounts of white and/or black pepper, and occasionally with chopped green onions or even hot pepper sauce.

Minorcan clam chowder

Minorcan clam chowder is a spicy traditional version found in Florida restaurants near St. Augustine and the northeast corner of the Sunshine State. It has a tomato broth base, with a "secret ingredient," Spanish datil pepper, an extremely hot chili comparable to the habanero. The datil pepper is believed to have been brought to St. Augustine by the Minorcan settlers in the 18th century, and tradition holds among Minorcan descendants that it will only thrive and grow in two places - Minorca, Spain and St. Augustine, Florida.[5]

Other variations

Some restaurants also serve their own unique clam chowders that do not fall into any specific categories. Clam chowder is usually served with saltine crackers or small, hexagonal oyster crackers. Throughout the United States, "New England-style" clam chowder is often characterized as being thicker and more creamy, even though traditionally it is rather thin (with many late 19th and early 20th century recipes using condensed milk as the base). This is sometimes served in sourdough bread bowls, especially in San Francisco, where sourdough bread is popular with tourists and has been considered a signature dish since 1849. In Seattle and Portland smoked salmon is often added to New England style chowder instead of smoked pork.[6][7]

Fish chowder is similar to clam chowder except that shredded fish, often cod, is substituted for the clams. It is made with fish, and often onions and potato. Chowder can be made with both clams and fish. Then it is both clam and fish chowder.

Except for the substitution of smoked haddock for clams, the chowders are remarkably similar to the traditional Scots broth cullen skink.

Long Island Clam Chowder is a variant that is part New England style and part Manhattan style, making it a creamy tomato clam chowder. The name is a geographical pun, noting that the location of Long Island, just like the recipe is about halfway between Manhattan and New England.[8] This variant is popular in many small restaurants across Suffolk County NY.[9]

See also


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External links

  • Manhattan Clam Chowder Coney Island/Fulton Market/Manhattan Clam Chowder by food researcher Barry Popik.
  • Recipe for Minorcan Clam Chowder
  • The New England Chowder Compendium
  • Clam chowder recipes
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