“Chowda” Anyone?

The month of February not only boosts National Homemade Soup Day on the 4th, but also the shortest month of the year includes National Clam Chowder Day on the 25th. Who knew?  

Chowders are typically associated with the east coast where fish and clams are plentiful. The word chowder is derived from the French phrase “faire chaudière” which translates to “fish stew made a cauldron.” It is suspected that chowders made their way to the US from French settlers that brought the dish to New England via Nova Scotia. 

Clam chowder is not just famous in the east. There are multiple regional variations of clam chowder, including the famous San Francisco clam chowder that is presented in a sourdough bread bowl. The Outer Banks in North Carolina boasts a Hatteras Island-style chowder made with local little neck clams. 

For those not brought up on chowder, you may note that the soup can be a bit territorial. In honor of National Clam Chowder Day, explore the world of chowder and the many chowder options available.

  • Potentially the most popular variety, New England clam chowder (aka Boston chowder) features a milk or cream-based soup. Often thicker than other regional styles, New England chowder is generally made with milk, butter, potatoes, bacon, onion, and clams. Flour may be added as a thickener. New England clam chowder is usually accompanied by oyster crackers that may be crushed and mixed into the soup or used as a garnish. Celebrate National Clam Chowder Day with this heartwarming, low fat New England clam chowder recipe.
  • Manhattan-style chowder has many of the same flavor components as the New England version. The major difference between the two is that Manhattan clam chowder has a red, tomato-based broth. Unlike the New England style, there is no milk or cream. Vegetables, such as carrots and celery, create a delicious base and thyme is often used as a seasoning. Manhattan clam chowder is often considered a healthier option due to a lower fat and calorie content. However, both chowders can be part of a balanced diet when enjoyed in moderation. 
  • Less well known is Rhode Island clam chowder which can be described as “delicate and refined”. Rhode Island clam chowder features a clear broth base made by simmering clams, potatoes, onions, and pork in fish stock. In addition to the traditional ingredients, some recipes may also include other flavorful vegetables or herbs, such as carrots, celery, and thyme. It is not uncommon to include a small amount of cream. This still yields a much thinner chowder than the New England version where the goal tends to be a “thick and rich” dish.
  • Long Island clam chowder is part New England–style and part Manhattan-style, making it a creamy, pinkish tomato clam chowder. Typically, Manhattan Clam chowder and New England Clam   chowders are cooked separately before being poured in the same bowl. This variant is popular in many small restaurants across Suffolk County, New York. 

Chowders tend to be different, but they are all delicious. And, just like any dish, chowders have evolved to break tradition. 

  • This sweet potato mussel chowder may be the catch of the day for your taste buds. Fresh muscles, turkey bacon and sweet potatoes create a rich and flavorful seafood dish. 
  • If you love the chowder mindset, but are not a fish fan, try this Corn chowder. Use frozen or canned corn or remember this recipe and capture sweet summer corn at its peak. This thick, creamy soup has many of the same ingredients as clam chowder—cream, onions, celery, and potatoes—but the standout ingredient is corn instead of clams. 

As you can see, there is a chowder for everyone. Celebrate National Clam Chowder Day – with or without clams. Make it your way.

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