Clam chowder

Clam chowder

New England clam chowder.
Type Chowder
Place of origin United States
Region or state New England
Invented 18th century[1][2]
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  Media: Clam chowder

Clam chowder is any of several chowder soups containing clams and broth. In addition to clams, common ingredients include diced potatoes, onions, and celery. Other vegetables are not typically used, but small carrot strips or a garnish of parsley might occasionally be added primarily for color. A garnish of bay leaves adds both color and flavor. It is believed that clams were used in chowder because of the relative ease of harvesting them.[3] Clam chowder is usually served with saltine crackers or small, hexagonal oyster crackers.


The earliest-established and most popular variety of clam chowder, New England clam chowder, was introduced to the region by French, Nova Scotian, or British settlers, becoming common in the 18th century. The first recipe for another variety, Manhattan clam chowder, known for using tomatoes and its consequently distinctly red coloring, was published in 1934. In 1939, the New England state of Maine debated legislation that would outlaw the use of tomatoes in chowder, thereby essentially prohibiting the "Manhattan" form.[1]

Primary variants and styles

Since the popularity of New England clam chowder spread throughout the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries, many other regions have introduced their own, local twists on the traditional recipe.

Delaware clam chowder

This variety typically consists 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.

Long Island clam chowder

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.[4] This variant is popular in many small restaurants across Suffolk County, New York.[5]

Manhattan clam chowder

Manhattan clam chowder has a reddish color from ripe tomatoes

Manhattan clam chowder has red broth, which is tomato-based. 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.

In the 1890s, this chowder was called "Fulton Fish Market clam chowder" and "New York City clam chowder." Manhattan clam chowder was referenced in Victor Hirtzler's "Hotel St. Francis Cookbook (1919).

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.[6]

New England clam chowder

New England clam chowder, occasionally referred to as Boston Clam Chowder in the Midwest, is a milk or cream-based chowder, and is traditionally of a thicker consistency than other regional styles, even though traditionally it is rather thin (with many late 19th and early 20th century recipes using condensed milk as the base). It is commonly made with potatoes, onion, and clams. Including tomatoes is shunned; in 1939, a bill making tomatoes in clam chowder illegal was introduced in the Maine legislature, but it did not pass.[7]

New England clam chowder is usually accompanied by 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.[8]

Traditional New England clam chowder is thickened with oyster crackers instead of flour. (Oyster crackers do not actually contain any oysters.)

New Jersey clam chowder

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

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. However, unlike Manhattan red chowder, it has no chunks of tomato, nor does it contain other vegetables (such as carrots or beans). This recipe has been served, for decades, with clamcakes at the memorable establishments like Rocky Point and Crescent Park.

Other variations

Some restaurants serve their own unique clam chowders that do not fall into any specific categories. For example:

See also


  1. 1 2 Correa, Cynthia. "A Brief History of Clam Chowder". Eater. Retrieved August 21, 2016.
  2. "Manhattan Clam Chowder vs. New England Clam Chowder". Retrieved August 21, 2016.
  3. "History of Chowder, History of Clam Chowder, History of Fish Chowder". Retrieved 2007-12-01.
  4. "Long Island Clam Chowder: Secret Blend Slowly Catching On". Long Island News from the Long Island Press. Retrieved October 29, 2015.
  5. Louis Imbroto. "Long Island clam chowder?". Young Island. Retrieved October 29, 2015.
  6. Jean Andrews. "A Botanical Mystery: The Elusive Trail of the Datil Pepper to St. Augustine: Jean Andrews". Retrieved 2012-11-15.(subscription required)
  7. Fabricant, Florence (May 18, 1986). "Fare of the Country; New England Clams: A Fruitful Harvest". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-09-06.
  8. Oliver, Sandy (April 2008). "The Crown Pilot Cracker Escapade: 11 Years Later". The Working Waterfront.
  9. "Bay City Guide : City Sights". Archived from the original on November 2, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-01.
  10. "Square One Titles". Retrieved 2007-12-01.
Wikibooks Cookbook has a recipe/module on
Wikibooks Cookbook has a recipe/module on
Wikibooks Cookbook has a recipe/module on
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Clam chowder.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 10/5/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.