John Larrysson's Kitchen: New England Clam Chowder

Many Hong Kong restaurants have two types of Western soup, white and red. It is as depressing as a choice of white or red wine. There is more to it than colour. Last summer I covered the red soup; it is a tomato soup falsely called borscht(羅宋湯). (John's Kitchen : Borscht). This summer I will tell you about the white soup(周打湯). The proper name for white soup is chowder. Chowder is a milky soup and most of the white soups in Hong Kong are not done correctly, they use too much starch and flavour powder instead of being real soup.

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In my family, the classic chowder is New England clam chowder. The (east coast) parts of the USA that used to be British colonies are called New England. New England clam chowder is a part of the food history of that sea coast.

To make New England clam chowder, a simple broth flavoured with some salt, bacon, potato and onion is made as the base. Then clams and milk are added in the last ten minutes of cooking.

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The way my mother made it is the only authentic (real) New England clam chowder. There is a different version called Manhattan clam chowder made with tomatoes instead of milk. However since it is not made with milk it is not a chowder, just a tomato soup with clams.

New England clam chowder is served with crackers. My younger brother liked to add so many crackers to his soup that it became a strange form of congee.

There are other popular chowders. Seafood chowder is like a clam chowder, only with a mixture of seafood. A vegetable chowder is a clam chowder, without the clams. Chicken and corn chowder is also popular in parts of America. Chowder is a traditional English and American soup.

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by John Larrysson

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A native English speaker who has been teaching practical English in Hong Kong for over two decades.


NOTE:Starting in 2016, this column has been published once every two weeks, on every other Tuesday.

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