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Difference Between Soup and Chowder

Soup vs Chowder

Differentiating chowder from soup is like comparing a cat from a mammal. It is because chowder is practically one kind of soup. Basically, chowder is a thicker kind of soup as it is cream-based while soup, in general, is usually made much thinner and has broth.

In terms of origin, chowder has deep roots from the Northeastern region of the U.S., particularly in New England, hence its popular recipe “New England Clam Chowder.” One of its first written recipes surfaced in 1751. By contrast, soup first materialized in America by 1742 in the first-ever published colonial cookbooks by William Parks.

The name “chowder” was actually derived from the French term “chaudiere” which is a type of cooking vessel like a boiler or pot where French fishermen boil their catches with veggies and potatoes. Despite this etymological significance, chowder is a very American dish but with some French influence nonetheless. Soup also has a French origin in the word “soupe” which can be literally translated into “soup” or “broth.”

Chowder is thick because it has been enriched with flour and salt pork fat whose combination gives it its creamy texture. Some prepare their chowder by incorporating saltine crackers, milk, and crushed ship biscuits. Based on some custom practices, chowder also makes use of cream, potatoes, seafood and onions. With regard to the seafood used, clams were more preferred than fish especially in the Northeast since these were overly abundant in that region.

Some American chowder deviates from the norm of adding milk and cream. To fill this gap, experts use a tomato base instead to attain almost the same type of creamy consistency as evidenced in Manhattan Clam Chowder. In addition, many local folks have been experimenting on this dish. That’s why the ingredients may vary from place to place with respect to the original recipe. No matter where the chowder has been prepared, the people eating it will always look forward to the creamy and chunky feel of the preparation.

Soup is traditionally the extracted broth of a mixture of different ingredients like veggies, legumes, spices and meat (among many others) by cooking them in a vessel of hot water to generate a unique flavor and aroma. It has two major classifications namely: thick and clear soups.


1.Chowder is a thickened cream-based soup. It is one of the many variations of soup.
2.Soup is generally thinner in consistency than chowder.
3.Soup has broth.
4.Soup surfaced in America a little earlier than chowder.

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