AskDefine | Define chowder

Dictionary Definition

chowder n : a thick soup or stew made with milk and bacon and onions and potatoes

User Contributed Dictionary



Prob. from French chaudière "pot", from chaud, "hot" (also related to the Latin calderia and English cauldron).
Poss. from OE jowter, "fish monger".



  1. A thick, creamy soup or stew.

Extensive Definition

Chowder is any of a variety of soups, enriched with salt pork fatback and thickened with flour, or more traditionally with crushed ship biscuit or saltine crackers, and milk. To some Americans, it means clam chowder, made with cream or milk in most places, or with tomato as "Manhattan clam chowder." Corn chowder is a thick soup filled with whole corn (maize) kernels. The most accepted etymology for the word chowder comes from the pot in which it is cooked. The French word chaudron translated means "a pot," developed from chaud, "hot" (also related to the Latin calderia and English cauldron). The word "chowder" is a New England word that came from Newfoundland, where Breton fishermen — who would throw portions of the day's catch and other available foods into a large pot — introduced the word, and perhaps the fish soup itself (compare bouillabaisse). Another possible origin for the word chowder is derived from the Old English "jowter", which means fishmonger (one who peddles fish).
Fish chowder, along with corn and clam chowder, continues to enjoy popularity in New England and Atlantic Canada. Seafood chowder is a traditional and popular dish in Ireland. Sometimes the freshest clam chowder can have a gritty consistency due to small particles of sand still present in the clams at the time of preparation.

Southern Illinois Chowder

The meaning of chowder in Southern Illinois is completely different from that of the New England meaning of chowder. In Edwards County, Illinois, the term "chowder" is of French-Indian origin and means not only the actual chowder which is eaten, but also the social gathering at which it is made and eaten. It is very popular in the southern part of the United States and is believed to have been brought to this area by the earliest settlers, or "backwoodsmen'. Traditionally, "chowder time" starts when the tomatoes ripen and closes with the first heavy frost.
Chowder is usually cooked outside in large black kettles or cauldrons, ranging in size from 20 to 70 gallons. The various ingredients used in making chowder are added to the boiling water, according to their time for cooking, so that all of the ingredients become ready at the same time. Chowder is usually finished when the ingredients have cooked up into a fairly thick soup usually four or more hours. The kettles must be stirred almost continuously while cooking so that the chowder does not scorch. The stirring is accomplished with the use of a wooden blade from eighteen to twenty-four inches long and six to eight inches wide that has several holes bored in it. To the blade is attached a handle at right angles near the end of it. The stirring device is commonly referred as a "paddle."
In 1958, the County Commissioners of Edwards County, Illinois, proclaimed their county the "Chowder Capital of the World."

References to chowder in popular culture


See also

  • Jeongol, a chowder-like stew in Korean cuisine
chowder in German: Chowder
chowder in Spanish: Chowder
chowder in Japanese: チャウダー
chowder in Polish: Chowder

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Irish stew, bisque, borscht, bouillabaisse, bouillon, broth, burgoo, chicken soup, clam chowder, clear soup, consomme, curry, egg drop soup, etuvee, fish soup, fricassee, gazpacho, goulash, gravy soup, gumbo, julienne, matzo ball soup, meat stew, minestrone, misoshiru soup, mock turtle soup, mulligan, mulligan stew, mulligatawny, olio, olla, olla podrida, oxtail soup, oyster stew, paella, pot-au-feu, potage, potage au tomate, potato soup, pottage, puree, ragout, soup, stew, stock, thick soup, thin soup, tomato soup, turtle soup, vegetable soup, vichyssoise, won ton soup
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