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.

South County Quahaug Chowder

6 pounds quahaugs
6 cups water
1/4 cup salt pork, cut into tiny cubes
1 cup chopped onion
4 cups cubed potatoes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Scrub quahaugs. Place in large kettle with water. Cover. Place over medium heat until shells open, about 5 minutes. Remove meat from shells and grind into small pieces. Discard shells. Save all liquid; set aside.

Fry salt pork to light brown in large pot. Add onions; fry lightly. Add reserved liquid plus enough water to make 8 cups.

Add potatoes, salt and pepper. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. Add chopped quahaugs; bring to light boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Serves 6.

Chowder is better made a day ahead.