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Chowda Pot: 5 Types of Clam Chowder You’ll Find In Connecticut

CT Clam Chowder

Everyone has an opinion when it comes to clam chowder.

Situated between New York and Massachusetts, Connecticut is a crossroads in many ways. New York or Boston? Red Sox, Yankees, or Mets? Tri-State or New England? It seems that there’s always a side to pick, and people in Connecticut are passionate about whichever side they land on. So is it really so surprising that everyone in Connecticut has an opinion when it comes to clam chowder, that quintessential fall comfort food of the Northeast?

Without further ado, here are the 5 types of chowder you’re likely to come across this fall in Connecticut.

New England Clam Chowder

To many, this is the only real clam chowder. Made with potato, onion, clam, and cream, this chowder is traditionally thickened with crushed oyster crackers. Adherents to this variety are passionate about its ingredients: In 1939, lawmakers in Maine went so far as to draft a law that would have made including tomatoes in clam chowder illegal, though it didn’t pass.

Connecticut Clam Chowder

That’s right, Connecticut has its very own version of the dish, and you may have been eating it your whole life assuming that it was simply another bowl of the New England variety. In most cases, this is made with the same base as the New England variant—potato, onion, clam—but also often includes bacon or, more traditionally, salt pork. The defining difference, though, is that instead of cream, the broth is made with milk, resulting in a thinner final dish.

Rhode Island Clam Chowder

This chowder features the same mirepoix of ingredients as the Connecticut and New England types (potato, onion, and clam) but—gasp!—includes neither cream nor milk. Instead, the broth is clear, often consisting of the very liquid used to steam the clams open, though sometimes chicken or fish stock is substituted. This is the chowder for clam purists, who really want to let the flavor of the clam itself shine through the dish.

Manhattan Clam Chowder

This is a chowder that you either love, or hate: If you love it, then Manhattan Clam Chowder defines “Clam Chowder” in your mind, and if you hate it, then you find its very existence an affront to all that is good and holy. In addition to the onion, potato, and clam, you’ll often find this variety sporting celery and bell pepper, and sometimes carrot, which is all innocent enough. The ingredient that works people up about this dish is tomato, which gives it a red hue and acidic taste like none of the chowders above.

Long Island Clam Chowder

Part geographical pun (since Long Island is halfway between New York and Connecticut), part culinary innovation, this chowder lies somewhere in the middle of New England clam chowder and Manhattan clam chowder. Sometimes it’s made by blending together equal parts of both varieties, but it can also be made simply by adding cream to a finished pot of Manhattan clam chowder or by adding tomatoes to a finished pot of New England clam chowder.

If you take a certain pleasure out of watching the world burn, then this is the chowder for you! Simply invite some of your chowder-loving friends over for dinner (it works best if you have fans of both the New England and Manhattan varieties present), bring out this dish, and watch all of their heads cumulatively explode.

What’s your favorite type of chowder? Who has the best in the state? Let us know in the comments!

About the author

Timothy Stobierski

Tim Stobierski is a Connecticut native and a freelance writer and editor who has worked with a number of publishers including Taunton, Abrams, and Yale University Press. He has written for Grow Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Hartford Courant, and many other publications. His first book of poetry, Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer was published in 2012 by River Otter Press. He is the founding editor of, a website focused on helping college students avoid and pay off their student loan debt.

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