Chowder is very regional stuff, a beloved soup, treasured because it allows a family to stretch its supply of seafood, it’s economical to make and bracingly filling. Chowders vary considerably. Some differences are personal, others are regional. For some, all chowders are plain broth or made red with tomato, while others contain milk or cream and are white. Others are thin or thick as gravy. Corn is highly optional.
- Boston and upper New England chowder is a cream-based chowder, clams, potatoes, onions and little else.
- Manhattan clam chowder is always known for its red tomato broth.
- Rhode Islanders play it safely and usually serve two chowders, a cream-based one in addition to a tomato-based chowder, with potatoes and no vegetables. Quahog chowder is immensely popular here.
- Long Islanders run it diplomatically opting for a tomato base with cream, a pinkish, unclear chowder.
- North Carolinians tend to make a thickened, clear chowder and kick it up with hot sauce.
- In the San Francisco area New England style chowder is served in a large sourdough-bread-bowl.
- The greatest difference between chowder and gumbo begins with the start of the recipe. Chowder has a simpler beginning and starts with sautéing a form of pork with aromatic and no slow, tedious browning of flour. Gumbo requires a roux, a slow and gentle browning of oil and flour. To this the aromatics are added, then the rest gets built about the same as chowder.
Generally, all North American chowders come down to this: Saute your choices of fat meat and aromatics until onion is translucent and fat has rendered.
Add liquid below and 2 ot 3 cubed potatoes, simmering until the latter is tender.
LIQUID, 4 to 6 cups
Add 1 ½ cups frozen corn and simmer for 2 minutes.
OPTIONAL THICKENING: Separately combine ½ cup flour and ½ cup water Slowly add mixture to pot, simmer slowly for desired thickness. You MAY NOT use all the thickening mixture.
Just before eating, add.
FISH/SEAFOOD, A MIXTURE, IF DESIRED
Simmer a very short time, only until fish or shellfish are opaque, usually less than 5 minutes. Just before serving, add a large lump of butter, and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve with crackers or crusty bread.
Below is three foodsites with specific chowder recipes.