Clam chowder

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Clam chowder
Quail 07 bg 041506.jpg
New England clam chowder.
Place of originUnited States
Region or stateNew England
Invented18th century[1][2]
Main ingredientsClams, broth or milk, potatoes, salt pork, onions, and butter
VariationsNew England clam chowder also known as Boston clam chowder, Manhattan clam chowder, Rhode Island clam chowder, others

Clam chowder is any of several chowder soups in American cuisine containing clams and broth or milk. In addition to clams, common ingredients include diced potatoes, salt pork, onions, and celery. Other vegetables are not typically used. 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 dish originated in the Eastern United States, but is now commonly served in restaurants throughout the country, particularly on Fridays when American Catholics traditionally abstained from meat. Many regional variations exist, but the three most prevalent are New England or "white" clam chowder, Rhode Island or "clear" clam chowder, and Manhattan or "red" clam chowder.


The earliest-established and most popular variety of clam chowder, the milk-based 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 Manhattan clam chowder, with tomatoes and no milk, was published before 1919,[4] 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.[1]

Primary variants and styles[edit]

Since the popularity of New England clam chowder spread throughout the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries, many other variants have developed.

Clam chowder



Rhode Island


c. 1890s

New England


c. 1900s
18th c.

South County


18th century
Relationship among the main clam chowder types, excluding hybrids[citation needed]

Delaware clam chowder[edit]

This variety typically consists of fried cubed salt pork, salted water, potatoes, diced onions, quahog clams, 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[edit]

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 or black pepper, and occasionally with chopped green onions or even hot pepper sauce.

Long Island clam chowder[edit]

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.[5] 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.[6]

Manhattan clam chowder[edit]

Manhattan clam chowder has a reddish color from tomatoes

Manhattan clam chowder has a red, tomato-based broth. 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."[citation needed] The "Manhattan" name is first attested in a 1934 cookbook.[1] Manhattan clam chowder is included in Victor Hirtzler's Hotel St. Francis Cookbook (1919) as "clam chowder."[4]

Today, Manhattan-style chowder often contains some vegetables, such as peppers, celery and carrots.[7]

Maine clam chowder[edit]

Maine style clam chowder is made from soft-shell clams (steamers), rather than quahogs. It is made of cream, clams, clam juice, cream, milk and onions, and thickened with potatoes. It generally does not contain salt pork or bacon, but is often served with melted butter on the surface.[8]

Minorcan clam chowder[edit]

Minorcan clam chowder is a spicy version found in Florida restaurants near St. Augustine and the northeast corner of Florida. It has a tomato broth base, with datil pepper, an extremely hot chili comparable to the habanero. The datil is believed to have been brought to St. Augustine by Menorcan settlers in the 18th century, and tradition holds among their descendants that it will only thrive and grow in two places: Menorca, Spain, and St. Augustine, Florida.[9]

New England clam chowder[edit]

New England clam chowder, occasionally referred to as Boston or Boston-style Clam Chowder,[4] is a milk or cream-based chowder, and is often of a thicker consistency than other regional styles, even though traditionally it is rather thin. It is commonly made with milk, butter, potatoes, salt pork, onion, and clams.[10] Some many late 19th and early 20th century recipes use condensed milk.

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.[11]

Traditional New England clam chowder is thickened with oyster crackers instead of flour. (Oyster crackers are made to accompany oysters.)

Rhode Island clam chowder[edit]

One Rhode Island clam chowder has a tomato broth base and potatoes but, unlike Manhattan style, no chunks of tomato and no other vegetables. Its origins are reportedly Portuguese and it was commonly served with clamcakes.

Another Rhode Island clam chowder is made with clear broth; this is common from eastern Connecticut to southeastern Rhode Island. In southeastern Rhode Island, it is sometimes called "South County Style" referring to Washington County, where it allegedly originated. In other parts of New England, it contains quahogs, broth, potatoes, onions, and bacon.

Clear clam chowder[edit]

Clear clam chowder is based on clear broth, and so has a thinner consistency thinner than Manhattan or New England styles. It sometimes adds mussels or steamers.

Other variations[edit]

There are many other variants. For example:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Correa, Cynthia. "A Brief History of Clam Chowder". Eater. Archived from the original on August 30, 2018. 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 December 1, 2007.
  4. ^ a b c Hirtzler, Victor (1919). The Hotel St. Francis cook book. p. 84,365.
  5. ^ "Long Island Clam Chowder: Secret Blend Slowly Catching On". Long Island News from the Long Island Press. Retrieved October 29, 2015.
  6. ^ Louis Imbroto. "Long Island clam chowder?". Young Island. Archived from the original on January 21, 2015. Retrieved October 29, 2015.
  7. ^ "The Scoop on Different Types of Clam Chowder". Your AAA Network. February 19, 2020. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  8. ^ "New England Clam Chowder - Maine Clam Chowder | Hank Shaw". Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. May 14, 2017. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  9. ^ Jean Andrews. "A Botanical Mystery: The Elusive Trail of the Datil Pepper to St. Augustine: Jean Andrews". JSTOR 30148816. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)(subscription required)
  10. ^ Fannie Merritt Farmer, The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, 1896, p. 128
  11. ^ Oliver, Sandy (April 2008). "The Crown Pilot Cracker Escapade: 11 Years Later". The Working Waterfront. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ "Bay City Guide : City Sights". Archived from the original on November 2, 2007. Retrieved December 1, 2007.
  13. ^ "Square One Titles". Archived from the original on February 4, 2012. Retrieved December 1, 2007.
  14. ^ Jasper White (2000). 50 Chowders. Scribner. p. 105. ISBN 0684850346.

External links[edit]