They Don’t Call Us Chowdaheadz For Nothing, Let’s Talk Chowda!

Ok, so maybe this is a bit premature. After all, it’s technically still Summer. But as you know, the weather in New England can change in the blink of an eye. If you’re anything like me, the changing of the seasons gets you thinking about all the delicious meals that compliment cold weather.

Clam chowder warms you from the inside out when the icy breezes begin to blow. It reminds you of childhood days coming in from the snow, breathless and red-faced. Aside from the comfort and nostalgia, it’s one of few “soups” hearty enough to stand alone as a meal.

So what are the requirements for a perfect New England Clam Chowder? It must contain the following ingredients to be truly legit: cream-base, clams, potatoes, onions, and some form of pork. Beyond that, there’s room for a bit of creativity as long as you don’t dare use tomatoes!

It has to be thick – far thicker than the Rhode Island or Manhattan variations. The clams should be free of that dreaded, rubbery texture. Potatoes are to be tender, but not mushy. Onions should be tasted rather than seen. And the bacon should be salty enough to set off the flavor, but not overwhelm it. The right combination of spices such as fennel, bay leaves, chives, and black pepper bring the flavor profile home without overwhelming the brininess of the clams.

Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, you have two options. Make your own batch – Heaven knows there are hundreds of recipes to be found online. Or, hop in the car and head to one of these Boston eateries known for their superior chowda creations.

Doing some shopping at Quincy Mahket? Swing into Ned Devine’s Irish Pub and enjoy a traditional, moderately priced bowl of classic chowder that has won the honor of Boston Harborfest Chowderfest champion three times. Not too shabby.

The Barking Crab on Boston’s Sleeper Street may be casual dining, but their take on chowder is anything but boring or traditional! They soak quahogs in white whine prior to adding the heavy cream base, bacon, onion, celery and spice. The result is a thick, fresh bowl of warm deliciousness!

What’s better than the perfect bowl of chowder? The perfect bowl of chowder served in a hot, fresh bread bowl! That’s exactly what you’ll get from Chef Danny Levesque at the Atlantic Fish Co. on Boylston Street. He starts with an oven-fresh boule, carved out to accommodate the rich creamy goodness. The soup itself is a traditional interpretation on the classic dish, with a medium-thick broth and perfectly cooked clams. The molten creation is served brimming and spilling over the sides of the boule – sheer perfection.

Legal Sea Foods, Neptune Oyster and The Island Creek Oyster Bar receive honorable mentions – very honorable!

Have you tried the chowda at any of these Boston establishments? Who serves up your favorite bowl of New England Clam Chowder?

Featured Image via Instagram/Feierg

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