Clam chowder

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Clam chowder
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New England clam chowder.
Place of originUnited States
Region or stateNew England
Invented18th century[1][2]
Main ingredientsClams, potatoes, salt pork, and onions. Cream or tomatoes may be added.
VariationsNew England clam chowder, Manhattan clam chowder, Rhode Island clam chowder, others

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.[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. 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,[citation needed] 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,[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]

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[edit]

Manhattan clam chowder has a reddish color from tomatoes

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

Today, Manhattan-style chowder often contains other vegetables, such as adding celery and carrots to include a mirepoix.[5]

New England clam chowder[edit]

New England clam chowder, occasionally referred to as Boston or Boston-style clam chowder,[6] 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.[7] 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.[8]

Rhode Island clam chowder[edit]

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.[5] In Rhode Island, it is sometimes called "South County Style" referring to Washington County, where it apparently originated.

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.[9] 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.[10]

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 Hirtzler, Victor (1919). The Hotel St. Francis cook book. p. 363.
  5. ^ a b "The Scoop on Different Types of Clam Chowder". Your AAA Network. February 19, 2020. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  6. ^ Hirtzler, Victor (1919). The Hotel St. Francis cook book. p. 84.
  7. ^ Fannie Merritt Farmer, The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, 1896, p. 128
  8. ^ Oliver, Sandy (April 2008). "The Crown Pilot Cracker Escapade: 11 Years Later". The Working Waterfront. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. ^ "Long Island Clam Chowder: Secret Blend Slowly Catching On". Long Island Press. Retrieved October 29, 2015.
  10. ^ Louis Imbroto. "Long Island clam chowder?". Young Island. Archived from the original on January 21, 2015. Retrieved October 29, 2015.

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