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.

Rhode Island clear chowder recipe

Here in New England, we stand by our clam chowder, but we don't all stand by the same chowder. Rhode Island boasts its very own, chock full of clams and potatoes but utterly devoid of cream, or tomatoes, or anything but clam broth. It's a soup for clam lovers, and for people who can't have dairy, and for people who grew up having a bowl of chowdah with stuffies and a cabinet to wash it down. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you're not from here, so perhaps you've never tasted our clear chowder. I hope you like it.

Rhode Island clear chowder

Serves 6.

2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large Idaho potato, peeled and diced
1 quart clam broth
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 lb minced clams
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper

In a Dutch oven or heavy stock pot, melt the butter in the oil over low-medium heat. Add the onion and celery, and sauté for 2-3 minutes until the onions are translucent. Stir in the diced potato, then pour in the clam broth and thyme leaves.

Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or until the potato is soft when pierced with a knife. Using a wooden spoon, smash some of the potato against the side of the pot, and stir into the broth to thicken it slightly. Add the clams with any juice, and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve hot.