One of America’s Favorites – Clam Chowder

May 17, 2021 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | 2 Comments
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New England clam chowder

Clam chowder is any of several chowder soups in American cuisine containing clams. In addition to clams, common ingredients include diced potatoes, salt pork, and onions. Other vegetables are not typically used. It is believed that clams were used in chowder because of the relative ease of harvesting them. Clam chowder is usually served with saltine crackers or small, hexagonal oyster crackers.

The dish originated in the Eastern United States, but is now commonly served in restaurants throughout the country. Many regional variations exist, but the three most prevalent are New England or “white” clam chowder, which includes milk or cream, Manhattan or “red” clam chowder, which includes tomatoes, and Rhode Island or “clear” clam chowder, which omits both.

 

The most popular variety of clam chowder, the milk-based New England clam chowder, which was influenced by French and Nova Scotian cuisine, became common in the 18th century. The first recipe for Manhattan clam chowder, with tomatoes and no milk, was published before 1919, and the current name is attested in 1934. In 1939, the legislature of the state of Maine considered outlawing the use of tomatoes in clam chowder, but this did not pass.

 

Manhattan clam chowder has a reddish color from tomatoes

As recipes for clam chowder spread throughout the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries, many regionally developed variants have arisen.

Manhattan clam chowder
Manhattan clam chowder has a red, tomato-based broth, initially introduced by Portuguese immigrants in Rhode Island, as tomato-based stews were already a traditional part of Portuguese cuisine. Thyme is often used as a seasoning.

In the 1890s, this chowder was called “Fulton Fish Market clam chowder” and “New York City clam chowder. Manhattan clam chowder is included in Victor Hirtzler’s Hotel St. Francis Cookbook (1919) as “clam chowder.” The “Manhattan” name is first attested in a 1934 cookbook.

Today, Manhattan-style chowder often contains other vegetables, such as adding celery and carrots to include a mirepoix.

New England clam chowder
New England clam chowder, occasionally referred to as Boston or Boston-style clam chowder, is a milk or cream-based chowder, and is often of a thicker consistency than other regional styles. It is commonly made with milk, butter, potatoes, salt pork, onion, and clams. Flour or, historically, crushed hard tack may be added as a thickener.

New England clam chowder is usually accompanied by oyster crackers. Crackers may be crushed and mixed into the soup for thickener, or used as a garnish.

Rhode Island clam chowder
Rhode Island clam chowder is made with clear broth, and contains no dairy or tomatoes. It is common in southeastern Rhode Island through eastern Connecticut. In Rhode Island, it is sometimes called “South County Style” referring to Washington County, where it apparently originated.

Long Island clam chowder
Long Island clam chowder is part New England-style and part Manhattan-style, making it a pinkish creamy tomato clam chowder. The name is a joke: Long Island is between Manhattan and New England. The two parent chowders are typically cooked separately before being poured in the same bowl. This variant is popular in many small restaurants across Suffolk County, New York.

 

 

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