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"Chowder" originally referred to a thick seafood soup, usually clam chowder. The term is also used to describe any thick, rich soup containing large chunks of meat or vegetables. Potato chowder, corn chowder. (I am not sure why the latter counts, as corn really isn't all that large.) Chowders of all kinds tend to have a hearty, robust flavor.

There are 2 types of North American clam chowder: New England clam chowder is a cream- or milk-based soup, thickened with flour. Manhattan clam chowder is thinner and tomato-based. People fight about this; it's important. There exists a small subset of visibly insane purists who believe authentic New England chowder should be clear, made with clam broth, stock, or water.

Clam chowder is indigenous to the East coast of North America, so they say. It is thought the dish originated in French Canada and made its way down the northeastern coast to New England. The name comes from the French chaudière, a cauldron in which fishermen made their stews fresh from the sea.

Hearty, chowder-like fish soups have, of course, developed in coastal regions around the world. Bouillabaisse is perhaps the most familiar of Mediterranean chowders, and other coastal areas have their own distinct specialties, from the sweet-and-sour fish soups of Southeast Asia to the conch chowders of the Bahamas.

thanks to:

Chow"der (?), n. [F. chaudiere a kettle, a pot. Cf. Caldron.]

1. Cookery

A dish made of fresh fish or clams, biscuit, onions, etc., stewed together.


A seller of fish.

[Prov. Eng.]


Chowder beer, a liquor made by boiling black spruce in water and mixing molasses with the decoction.


© Webster 1913.

Chow"der, v. t.

To make a chowder of.


© Webster 1913.

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