Clam chowder is an iconic, comforting New England dish. It's a thick, hearty soup traditionally made with clams, potatoes, and cream. A variety of regional styles have developed over the years, making it a beloved staple throughout the US.
Clam chowder originated in the New England area of the United States in the 18th century during the era of colonial fishing. Variations of the creamy soup with potato and clams are still served in the region today.
The Neclawsclam style of clam chowder is popular on the east coast of the US and includes vegetables in the broth, like celery, carrots, and bacon, to give it a unique flavor.
Manhattan-style clam chowder is a lighter, tomato-based soup popular in the mid-Atlantic region. It typically has a stronger tomato flavor than its creamy New England counterpart.
Rhode Island clam chowder is a broth-based variation popular in Southern New England, made with a clear broth and slightly spicy flavor.
Pacific Northwest dinner shops serve the unique Washington or Oregon clam chowder. This version has a unique flavor, as it is made with lard or butter, bacon, onion, and clam stock simmered all together.
While traditional clam chowders are made with whole clams, some areas of the US prefer clam chowder made with chopped meat. This style is often called clam chowder "by the book" or "pirate-style."
The South has its version of clam chowder, known as Savannah red clam chowder. This type of chowder is made with a tomato base and differs from other regional variations by adding sautéed green peppers, onion, and garlic instead of bacon.
Conch chowder is a slightly different take on clam chowder and has become popular in the Caribbean. This adaptation generally includes conch, potatoes, and celery in a flavorful tomato base.
Lobster chowder is a Maine take on classic chowder. This variation is found most frequently near the shore and is made of lobster, potatoes, celery, hearty cream, and spices.
While most chowders rely on clams, mussels, or other shellfish, many regions have variations. These can include chicken, ham, shrimp, or whatever the cook desires.