Image by Kevin Lanceplaine


Ah yes, chowder. The ultimate comfort dish, and a classic of Northern American gastronomy. A cream-based soup usually laden with potatoes, carrots, celery, fish or shellfish, sometimes bacon and other miscellaneous ingredients, chowder is the sumptuous sustenance of fisherman, farmers, and more. Its disposition is unmistakable: hearty, filling, and rich enough to put a twinkle in your eye.


Why, then, are so many people offput by the prospect of whipping up a scrumptious chowder? Fear not, foodies. Crafting the perfect chowder requires only a smattering of basic ingredients, a stockpot, and your own creative ingenuity.

A good chowder starts with a flavorful stock. If you're new to chowders, start with the classic combination of sautéed onions and celery, garlic and thyme, and a few aromatic spices like bay leaves and cloves. Once the base is assembled, add in some potatoes and carrots to give the soup a bit of texture, and simmer until fork-tender. You can make a stock from homemaking or fish, depending on your preferences.

Next up comes the thickener: usually a roux made of butter, flour, and milk. Not only does it give the soup its signature creamy texture, but the starches also provide a nice boost of flavor. With the roux in place, you can add in whatever extras you'd like to round out the flavor profile – bacon, seafood, veggies, herbs, and cheese all make great additions.

To finish off the dish, it's time to ladle the chowder into bowls and add some final touches of seasoning. Some cooks like to hit their finished soup with a shot of sherry or brandy, while others swear by the classic seafood trio of Old Bay, black pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice. There's no wrong answer here; use whatever combination of seasonings you enjoy best.

So don't be daunted by the daunting task of making the perfect chowder. As long as you keep your ingredients fresh, tasty, and suitably savory, you can whip up a bowl of deliciousness in no time. With a few simple steps, and a little creative flair, you can enjoy a steaming bowl of chowder any day of the week. Bon appétit!

The origin of Chowder

Chowder: A Rich and Richly Textured Foodstuff That Warmed New Englanders' Hearts

The term ‘chowder’ may conjure up images of warm, cheesy seafood stew, but its origin is far more complex. The iconic dish has evolved over hundreds of years to become the beloved staple it is today, adorning dinner tables across New England.

Long before there was chowder, Native Americans were crafting similar dishes they called ‘chawders.’ These were hearty stews composed of fish and shellfish cooked in a ‘chuwdur’ — a type of clay cauldron — often with Native maize as a thickener.

It wasn't until the early 1700s that European settlers began to adopt the Native chowder recipe, sprucing it up with milk or cream and potatoes. This sort of chowder was common amongst fishermen and farmers who had to stretch their meager rations into filling meals.

By mid-century, chowder had become an established favorite amongst the settlers of New England, particularly along the coast. It grew in popularity even further thanks to the huge influx of French immigrants, who brought with them their own recipes for traditional poisson chaudrée. These included a meat base, such as pork, with onions, celery, and carrots, seasoned with salt pork, bay leaves, and peppercorns.

Today, various interpretations of chowder exist, each inspired by its unique history. Clam chowder is one of the most popular varieties, while other varieties incorporate fish, shrimp, mussels, and vegetables. All share the unifying features of being based on a rich, creamy broth and thickened with flour, potato, or cornstarch.

Like many other traditional dishes, chowder is a testament to the creativity and resourcefulness of the people who first crafted it. It stands as a reminder of the resilience of its humble origins, and continues to bring sustenance and warmth to hundreds of thousands of New Englanders every day.

FAQs about Chowder

What chowder means?

Chowder is a type of thick and rich soup made with milk or cream, potatoes, onions, and other vegetables, as well as some kind of seafood such as clams, fish, or shrimp. Chowder can also be made with other meats such as chicken or pork. It is usually served hot and can sometimes be accompanied by crackers or croutons.

What makes a chowder not a soup?

Chowders are typically thicker and creamier in texture than most soups since they contain milk, cream, or a roux-thickened base. Additionally, chowders often contain chunks of vegetables, potato, or seafood, whereas many soups have a smoother texture and smaller pieces of ingredients.

What makes it a chowder?

Chowders are thick, hearty soups made with a creamy base. Typically, chowders are made with a combination of milk or cream, potatoes and other vegetables, as well as a variety of proteins, such as fish, shellfish, chicken, pork or beef. The combination of ingredients usually creates a thick, creamy texture and flavor.

What type of animal is chowder?

Chowder is not an animal; it is a type of soup.

Types of Chowder

Ah Chowder, that hearty and comforting dish that has been a part of many cultures for centuries. This dish is a thick soup or stew with a creamy broth, typically made with seafood, potatoes, onions, and other vegetables. There are many different varieties of chowder, each one unique with its own unique and delicious flavor.

The most commonly known type of chowder is the classic New England clam chowder, a hearty broth-based dish with potatoes, onions and clams. In Canada, a similar dish called ‘Manhattan’ clam chowder is also popular, which is tomato based instead of cream-based. Another clam variety found in the United States is Rhode Island clear clam chowder, which is a light broth-based version that uses only a few ingredients, and is usually served with a cracker on top.

Seafood chowders aren't the only type, however. Corn chowder is another popular variety, typically made with corn, celery, onions, potatoes and a bit of bacon. And then there's the creamy and rich New England fish chowder, traditionally made with cod or haddock, bacon, potatoes and cream, along with a few other ingredients.

Potato-less chowders are gaining traction as well. Southwestern corn chowder is an example, which is a flavorful combination of corn, bell peppers, jalapeno, tomatoes and spices. Or consider a creamy vegan chowder, which can be made with mushrooms, celery, red potatoes, asparagus and other vegetables, all blended together with a savory vegetable broth.

No matter what type you choose, chowder is sure to please. Its thickness and robust flavors make it perfect for a cold day, and you can customize it with whatever ingredients and seasonings you like. So why not whip up a pot of chowder today and savor the succulent aromas of the delectable dish?