Chowder is a seafood or vegetable stew (or thickened soup), often served with milk or cream and mostly eaten with saltine crackers. Chowder is usually thickened with broken up crackers, but some varieties are traditionally thickened with crushed ship biscuit. New England clam chowder, perhaps the best known chowder, is typically made with chopped clams and diced potatoes, in a mixed cream and milk base, often with a small amount of butter. Other common chowders include Manhattan clam chowder, which substitutes tomatoes for the milk and cream and typically omits potatoes; corn chowder, which uses corn instead of clams; a wide variety of fish chowders; and potato chowder, which is often made with cheese.
The origin of the term chowder is obscure. One possible source is the French word chaudière, the type of cooking/heating stove on which the first chowders were probably cooked. (This, if true, would be similar to the origin of casserole, a generic name for a set of main courses originally prepared in a dish called a casserole.)
The phonetic variant chowda, found in New England, is believed to have originated in Newfoundland in the days when Breton fisherman would throw portions of the day's catch into a large pot, along with other available foods.
Fish chowder, corn chowder, and clam chowder continue to enjoy popularity in New England and Atlantic Canada.
Types of chowder 
See also 
- Cioppino, a fish stew derived from Italian cuisine
- Jeongol, a chowder-like stew in Korean cuisine
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