Clam chowder is an American staple typically seen on the East Coast. Although there are numerous different types of chowders, clam chowder is the most well-known and popular.
The Origins Of Clam Chowder
Clam chowder has been in America since the country’s birth. It is unknown whether British, French, or Nova Scotian settlers introduced the chowder to the country. But it’s generally accepted that clam chowder was first introduced to the New England area in the 1700s.
Clam chowder was very popular among early settlers. It’s believed that the first restaurant to serve clam chowder was the Ye Olde Union Oyster House in Boston in 1836. The restaurant is still in operation today, serving their chowder to tourists and city-goers.
An East Coast Divide
As clam chowder recipes spread through the country over time, a divide began to exist between two popular styles of chowder.
The traditional New England recipe is made with milk or cream, which makes up the base of the soup. Many often use oyster crackers as a thickening agent. Other than potatoes, the chowder does not contain any other vegetables. New England clam chowder still remains popular in the area today. It is considered an iconic dish of Maine and a classic dish to try in any of Boston’s historic neighborhoods.
New Yorkers put their own spin on clam chowder, significantly altering the original recipe. Manhattan clam chowder is red in color, not white. This is because the Manhattan variation uses tomatoes and tomato paste, resulting in a chowder that is much thinner. Although it’s unclear who originally created the recipe, the first known publication was in a cookbook called “Soups and Sauces,” published in 1934.
Although the New England and Manhattan styles are the two most popular versions, every region has seemingly put their own twist on the recipe over time.
For example, a New Jersey variation is a hybrid between the New England and Manhattan styles, as it uses tomatoes, creamed asparagus, and light cream. It’s also typically seasoned with Old Bay, a popular spice in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Residents of the Outer Banks, North Carolina have created a version dubbed the Hatteras Island-style clam chowder. This chowder is broth-based and does not use either cream or tomatoes.
Minorcan clam chowder can be found in Florida. It is most like Manhattan clam chowder, except for the fact that they add datil pepper. Datil pepper is native to Cuba and is popular in southeastern areas of the United States.
Looking To Try Clam Chowder?
If you’d like to try great clam chowder on the West Coast, check out our Soups Studio TM. Our clam chowder is similar to the classic New England-style, white in color. Our chowder is rich and hearty but not heavy. Unlike other chowders, we do not use cornstarch or tapioca in our recipe. We’ve taken the time to craft a chowder that perfectly balances diced potatoes and savory bacon. Our clam chowder is gluten-free, making it great for anyone to try.