Chowder comes from the French word "chaudiere," meaning "large copper pot." In Brittany, fishermen would combine their fish in one of these pots, add spices, and share the resulting soup. This custom traveled with the Bretons to Newfoundland and then down to New England.

Legal Sea Foods clam chowder

4 quarts littleneck clams, to make about 1 2/3 cups cooked and chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 cup water

2 ounces salt pork, finely chopped

2 cups chopped onions

3 tablespoons flour

4 1/2 cups clam broth

3 cups fish stock

1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled, diced in 1/2-inch cubes

2 cups half-and-half or light cream

Oyster crackers, for serving, optional

Clean the clams well and place them in a large stock pot along with the garlic and water. Steam the clams, cooking over medium-high heat until just opened, about 6 to 10 minutes, depending upon their size. Drain and remove clams from shells, reserving the broth. Mince the clam flesh and set aside. Strain the clam broth into a bowl through coffee filters or a strainer lined with cheesecloth; reserve.

In a large, heavy pot on medium heat, cook the salt pork until crisp. Remove the cracklings with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to drain; set aside. Slowly cook the onions over medium-low heat in the rendered fat for about 6 minutes, stirring frequently, or until cooked through but not browned. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the reserved clam broth, 4 1/2 cups clam broth and fish stock, whisking while adding to remove any flour lumps. Increase heat to medium-high and bring the liquid to a boil, stirring. Add the potatoes, lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the reserved clams, salt-pork cracklings and half-and-half. Heat the chowder until it is the temperature you prefer. Do not boil. Serve in large soup bowls with oyster crackers on the side.

Makes 8 servings.

Per serving with half-and-half: 287 calories, 46% calories from fat, 15 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 43 mg cholesterol, 25 g carbohydrates, 14 g protein, 725 mg sodium, 2 g fiber

Per serving with light cream: 326 calories, 53% calories from fat, 19 g fat, g 10 saturated fat, 60 mg cholesterol, 24 g carbohydrates, 14 g protein, 725 mg sodium, 2 g fiber