Chowders for winter meals
For warming meals during the snowy days of winter, chowders and soups are just the dishes to serve our families. Here's a look at some chowder recipes, as well as some regional variations on the most popular of these thick soups -- clam chowder.
Many types of chowderThe name "chowder" originated from the French "chaudiere," meaning kettle or cauldron. It brings to mind the hearty stews made by combining clams, fish, or seafood with potatoes, onions, milk and seasonings.
But the word "chowder" can be applied, too, to vegetable or meat mixtures made with milk and eaten with crackers like any filling stew. Many are the variations of fish, clam, corn or ham chowders that have been handed down from generation to generation of country folks.
Variations of clam chowderMany, too, are the variations of clam chowder found around the country:
- New Englanders claim clam chowder is best when it includes salt pork for flavor along with diced potatoes, perhaps some onion, rich milk, and plenty of clams. *Manhattan dwellers claim clam chowder is best when made with tomatoes for added flavor.
- Yorktown clam chowder, famous in colonial days, called for a dash of beer or ale for flavoring.
- Pennsylvania Dutch recipes often called for the chowder to be thickened with flour.
- On the West Coast, bacon, fried crisp and brown, might be added to clam chowder for flavor.
- While in Southern states, some recipes for clam chowder call for the addition of celery, green peppers, Worcestershire sauce, and fatback, possibly adding a touch of Creole to the recipe.
Chowder recipes handed down through generationsIn their many variations, fish and clam chowder recipes were handed down from generation to generation of fisherfolk along the Atlantic coast. Gradually these bubbling brews made their way inland as pioneers left the seacoast for forest and farming areas - for ages, chowders are known and savored countrywide. Now modern refrigeration and freezing techniques make it possible for a homemaker to secure fish for this one-dish meal whether she's one mile or one hundred miles from the ocean's edge.
Quick Manhattan Clam ChowderThis tomato-based soup is concocted by sauteeing in 2 tablespoons salad oil, 1 chopped medium onion, 1 chopped green pepper, 1/4 pint drained chopped fresh clams or two (7-oz) cans drained minced clams.
To make, add water to reserved clam liquor to make 1 cup liquid. Combine this and 2 cups sieved canned tomatoes with other ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste and tomato juice or water if thinner soup is desired. Simmer 10 minutes, until clams are cooked and chowder hot, but not boiling. Serve hot with soda crackers.