Chowder likely originated during the 16th century in the fishing villages of England and France. In fact, it’s believed that the word “chowder” derives from the French term “chaudiere” which means “boiler.”
For decades, North American settlers stuck with making basically a fish stew because they believed (incorrectly) that clams were disgusting. Clams and mussels were fed to their hogs because they were considered “the meanest of God’s blessings.” It wasn’t until 1836 that clam chowder made it onto the menu of America’s oldest restaurant, Boston’s Union Oyster House. Since then, New England Clam Chowder has become one of the most popular soups in the world.
New England Clam Chowder
- Large pot or Dutch Oven
- ½ lb Smoked bacon, thick slices cut crosswise into ½-inch slices
- 1 large Onion, finely chopped
- 1 lb Canned or frozen chopped clams
- 2 stalk Celery, finely chopped
- 1 clove Garlic, minced
- ¼ tsp Dried thyme
- ½ tsp Black pepper
- 1½ lb Yukon gold potatoes (or russet), peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
- 3 tbsp Flour
- 2 Bay leaves
- 4 cups Clam broth
- 3 cups Fish or chicken broth
- 2 cups Light cream or half-and-half
- Oyster crackers
- In a large pot, slowly cook bacon over medium-low heat until crisp. Remove crispy bacon with a slotted spoon and save.
- Add onions and celery to the bacon drippings and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add pepper, thyme, and garlic. Cook 1 minute more. Turn heat to medium-high, add flour, and stir to make a light brown roux, about 3 minutes.
- Add clam broth and fish stock, whisking out any lumps and combining everything thoroughly. Bring to a boil and add potatoes. Lower heat back to medium-high and simmer until potatoes are cooked through, about 15 minutes.
- Stir in chopped clams, cooked bacon, and cream. Heat soup to hot being sure not to let it boil. Serve in large soup bowls with oyster crackers, salt, pepper, and Tabasco or another hot sauce on the side.