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 Fish Chowder: A New England Favorite


Do you like to visit those quaint clam shacks down at the seashore for your favorite bowl of seafood bisque or New England Clam Chowder? You can enjoy New England Fish Chowder all year long with this authentic recipe from Rhode Island. Stir up a pot when the boat returns to the dock and the fishing trip is over!

This recipe can be cooked right over the campfire and served in paper bowls, or is worthy enough to be served in your best china soup tureen.

Freeze the fish for future stews. Our family enjoys savoring a batch in a large chowder pot served over the Christmas Holidays.

Authentic New England Fish Chowder

1 lb. salt pork, cut into strips, soaked in boiling water 5 minutes and drained

4 lb. cod or sea bass fillets, cut into 4-inch squares

3 c. finely chopped onions

1 Tbl. chopped fresh summer savory or one tsp. dried savory

3 Tbl. chopped parsley

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

Split pilot crackers, cream crackers or ship biscuits or any plain, unsalted crackers that have not been oil-dipped

3 Tbl. butter

1 Tbl. flour

1. Make a layer of the salt pork in the bottom of a chowder kettle. Top with a layer of the fish, then the onions and season with some of the savory, parsley and cayenne.

2. Make a layer of the crackers. Repeat layers until all ingredients are used, ending with crackers that have been spread with two tablespoons of the butter.

3. Pour water down the side of the kettle until water almost covers top layer of crackers. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer one hour. Replenish water level with boiling water if level sinks too low.

4. Decant the liquid into a saucepan. Blend together the remaining butter and the flour and gradually whisk the mixture into the simmering liquid.

5. Transfer solid part of chowder to a tureen or soup bowls and pour thickened liquid over.

Yield: 8-10 servings