Amherst NH Restaurants: The Savory Origins of Clam Chowder

Amherst nh restaurants

New England clam chowder, often simply referred to as “chowder,” is a beloved dish that has captured the hearts and palates of people far and wide. This soup is a staple in the cuisine of New England, particularly in states like Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Maine. That’s why this month, one of your favorite Amherst, NH restaurants, Bentley’s Roast Beef, is diving into the rich history of this dish and exploring how it became a culinary symbol of New England!

A Taste of History

The roots of clam chowder can be traced back to early American history when European settlers first arrived on the shores of New England. These early settlers quickly adopted the culinary traditions of the Native American tribes they encountered, including the Wampanoag and Narragansett. These tribes had long been preparing a type of seafood stew, which likely served as the inspiration for what would become clam chowder.

The earliest chowders were simple affairs, consisting of clams, fish, or other seafood, combined with salt pork, onions, and hardtack (a type of hard biscuit) for thickening. The use of milk or cream in chowder didn’t become prevalent until the 18th century when dairy farming became more established in the region. This addition of dairy gave rise to the creamy and rich texture that we associate with clam chowder today.

Regional Variations

One of the fascinating aspects of clam chowder is the regional variations that have emerged over the years. While the basic ingredients remain consistent, each New England state has put its unique spin on the dish.

  • New England Clam Chowder: This is the classic white chowder, renowned for its creamy base. It is primarily associated with Massachusetts, particularly Boston, and is often made with quahog clams, a large hard-shell clam variety.
  • Rhode Island Clam Chowder: In contrast to the creamy New England version, Rhode Island clam chowder is clear and brothy. It omits the dairy and relies on a tomato-based broth, resulting in a lighter, slightly tangy flavor.
  • Maine Clam Chowder: Maine’s take on clam chowder features a creamy base like New England’s, but it tends to be a bit thicker and heartier. It is known for its generous use of diced potatoes and, in some variations, the inclusion of corn.

Popularity and Tradition

The popularity of clam chowder in New England is deeply rooted in the region’s maritime history. As coastal communities thrived on fishing and seafood harvesting, chowder became a nourishing and comforting meal for fishermen. Its warm, hearty nature made it a perfect choice for battling the cold New England winters.


Bentley’s Roast Beef | Amherst NH Restaurants

Whether you’re stopping in for lunch or dinner, you’ll find various delicious options to satisfy your cravings here at one of your favorite Amherst, NH restaurants. For more information on what we offer, we encourage you to check out our online menu or order online today!

Follow us on Facebook for the latest updates or call (603) 883-2020 to place an order today.

Leave a comment