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.

New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder
6 ounces (about 6 slices) thick-sliced bacon, cut into ¼-inch dice
About 2 cups diced yellow onion (¼-inch dice)
¾ cup diced celery (¼-inch dice)
1 large carrot, peeled and finely grated (about ¾ cup)
1 tablespoon dried dill
2 teaspoons dried thyme
½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
to ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups bottled clam juice
½ cup dry white wine
2 dried bay leaves
3 cans (6.5 ounces each) chopped clams, with their juices
1 cup half-and-half
3 cups diced cooked potatoes (
¼-inch dice; any variety will work)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the bacon in a large stockpot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it is crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the onion, celery, carrot, dill, thyme, and white pepper to the pot, and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft, 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Add
cup of the flour and cook, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat to make a thick roux. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes to eliminate the raw flour taste. If the roux is oily, add more of the flour and continue cooking for 2 more minutes. (The exact quantity of flour needed will depend upon the amount of bacon fat in your pot.)

3. Add the clam juice, wine, and bay leaves, and raise the heat to medium. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is hot and has thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the chopped clams with their juices, the half-and-half, and the potatoes, and cook gently until the soup is hot. Season the chowder with salt and pepper to taste.

Note: The chowder can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 4 days. Makes 8 servings.