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CHOWDA! Learn About The History of Clam Chowder and Enjoy This Easy-to-Make Recipe

Jan 11, 2022 03:14PM ● By Virginia Dean
For those who have experienced New England Clam Chowder, they know that the taste of chowder is as savory and rich as any form of potage offered.

The word chowder stems from the French chaudiere or chaudron and may have originated among Breton fishermen who brought the custom to Newfoundland, after which it spread to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and New England some 250 years ago.

It originated as a shipboard dish and was thickened with the use of hardtack or a simple type of biscuit or cracker made from flour, water, and sometimes salt. It was used for sustenance in the absence of perishable foods, commonly during long sea voyages, land migrations, and military campaigns. It was a standard ration for many militaries and navies throughout the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. 
It was prepared with milk or cream and thickened with broken crackers, crushed ship biscuits, or a roux.

New England clam 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 seafood; lamb or veal; corn; and a wide variety of fish.

Here is an easy-to-make recipe for Clam Chowder:


·    4 slices bacon, diced

·    2 tablespoons unsalted butter

·    2 cloves garlic, minced

·    1 onion, diced

·    1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

·    3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

·    1 cup milk

·    1 cup vegetable stock

·    2 (6.5-ounce) cans chopped clams, juices reserved

·    1 bay leaf

·    2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced

·    1 cup half and half*

·    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

·    2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves


1. Heat a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, reserving 1 tablespoon excess fat in the stockpot.

2. Melt butter in the stockpot. Add garlic and onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in thyme until fragrant, about 1 minute.

3. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk, vegetable stock, clam juice, and bay leaf, and cook, whisking constantly until slightly thickened about 1-2 minutes. Stir in potatoes.

4. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender about 12-15 minutes.

5. Stir in half and half and clams until heated through, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. If the soup is too thick, add more half and half as needed until desired consistency is reached.

6. Serve immediately, garnished with bacon and parsley, if desired

For the original recipe click here.

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