Although its unclear who “invented” Clam Chowder, its clear that the colonists that were newly arrived in New England thought it was a good idea and ate the soup! The Indigenous people of the region, the Mohegan’s, Pequot’s, Narragansett, Mi’kmaq, and Wampanoag would build contraptions in the rivers and bays to catch fish, clams, oysters, lobster, and mussels for their soup. Its not as simple as this, but once the seafood of the Americas met the kitchens of the settlers, clam chowder was probably born, mostly of necessity by using what they had to make a meal.
It’s now a long-standing tradition in New England, and Boston’s Union Oyster House – which is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the United States – has been serving it up since 1836! While the New England style is the best known, there are many other variations of clam chowder. We will be focusing on only New England style today, so if you know someone who makes Manhattan or Long Island, or even Floridian style instead, great! Try that soup too!
Instead of sending everyone to the coast from land-locked states to either catch or buy clams off the docks (which is a great idea if you’re close) lets make a simple chowder with canned clams, written by Hayden S. Pearson, who lived his whole life in New England and published recipes passed down to him from his family, friends, and neighbors of the area. This recipe is from his Country Flavor Cookbook, published in 1958 and was given to Captain Create by a real-life New Englander who was raised in Maine and ate lots of clam chowder growing up. Good thing she knew Captain Create loves to cook!