Chowder vs. Bisque: A Soup Conundrum

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Brook K, Jan 7, 2006.

  1. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

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    Recently, I've found myself eating lots of clam chowder. I thought clam chowder was the only kind of chowder that existed, but while at the grocery store stocking up, I noticed that there are multiple kinds of chowders like potato and beef.

    So what makes chowder chowder? Is chowder just soup with a thicker broth? And since Lobster Bisque didn't seem all that different to me, what's the difference in preparing a bisque vs. a chowder? And where does stew fit in?

    And has anyone else noticed how soup/chowder/chili taste that much better when one uses oyster crackers vs. just crumbling up saltines even though there is no logical reason why this should be?
     
  2. Patrick_S

    Patrick_S Producer

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    One of the obvious differences between chowder and bisque is that Chowders use potatoes.
     
  3. Marc S Kessler

    Marc S Kessler Stunt Coordinator

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    Chowder is chunky with potatoes and other veggies as well as seafood. Bisque is very smooth and chunks, if any, are very small.
     
  4. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    According to definition, it appears (as was mentioned) they are similar expect that chowders contain potatoes, onions, and vegetables.I always thought all bisques were completely blended without any chunks, until I saw a seafood bisque that had tons of fish and chunks in it.

    But, I guess every restaurant has it's own 'loose' interpretation on what a bisque really is. [​IMG]
     
  5. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    The real difference is where they come from. Hearty seafood soups thickened with some kind of starch and smoothed with cream have been independently developed all over the world. The various New England dishes collectively known as "chowders" derive their name, ultimately, from the French chaudiere, meaning "kettle" or "pot", which in turn derives from the Latin caldaria ("warm bath") "Cauldron" derives from the same root.

    While chowders were named after the vessel they're cooked in, bisques are named for the fishing area where they developed - the Bay of Biscay, the arm of the Atlantic that faces the western coastline of France and the northern coastline of Spain. The bay has numerous excellent harbors and many natural fishing grounds, and has thus been a major seafood producer for centuries. "Bisque" originally referred to a soup (or someitmes a stew) made from a mix of whatever the catch was - often the left-overs of a day's fishing, fish or clams, lobsters and oysters that were too small for the market, but good enough to eat. Later these dishes were adapted as restaurant fare, and specialized in single kinds of fish or shellfish.

    The difference between stew and a soup? The amount of liquid, basically. Generally speaking a stew is made with chunks of meat or chicken and/or vegetables, browned in a little fat, which is slow cooked over low heat after some liquid (water, wine, stock) has been added. Soup usually starts with a boiling liquid (water, stock, milk or cream) to which vegetables, herbs, fish, fowl or meat is added, and which is them slow simmered. Basically in stew some liquid is added to mostly solid ingredients, in soup some solid ingredients are added to a large quantity of liquid.

    With some dishes the proportions of liquid to solid are so nearly even it is really hard to catergorize them as either.

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  6. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    Both are thick soups. Chowders use potatoes for thickening, Bisques use the meat themselves for thickening, often pureed smooth to achieve a velvet like texture. Bisques are also started with a stock from the shells/bones of the main ingredient, Chowders do not have to use a stock. Chowders usually contain an element of pork fat; Bacon or Salt Pork.

    For those outside of New England, try our Corn Chowder if you ever visit. Well made Corn Chowder is better than clam, IMHO.

    Oh yeah, one other thing. Chowders use milk and/or cream. Anything else is Clam Minestrone minus the macaroni.
     
  7. Richard Travale

    Richard Travale Producer

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    And so the New York vs. New England battle begins [​IMG]
     
  8. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    Richard, don't forget Rhode Island! [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I'll agree, New England is the only one worth of being called chowder, the others are just soup.
     
  9. Kirk Gunn

    Kirk Gunn Screenwriter

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    New England ChowDER ??? I only know it as Chow-DAH...

    I actually had some very decent clam chowder in a biker bar in Myrtle Beach named Shuckers. Just stopped in for some bee-ahs and some chowdah, but couldn't find anywhere nea-ah to pahk the cah....

    While I grew up in New England, I've lived in MD for 15yrs. When I go back, I can even understand my family !
     
  10. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Kirk:

    But do you understand the people from Bal'mr? [​IMG]

    (There is an odd Baltimore accent where the middle of the word disappears and only the beginning and end are actually pronouced. Everywhere else in the world, a paramour is a lover. In Baltimore it's what you cut your grass with. [​IMG])

    I did my first two years of college at St. Johns and stayed in town over most of the breaks. I've always thought Annapolis one of the most beautiful towns I've ever seen, and e very nice place to live. Do they still have a booth reserved for the governor at Chick and Ruth's "Delly"? (I was sitting in the booth next to the Gov's one day when "Honest" Marv Mandell came in. We chatted for awhile and he ended up buying me breakfast. Good thing it wasn't the other way around. Governor Mandell was later convicted on racketeering charges. [​IMG])

    At one point I had a basement apartment on a street near one of gates to the Naval Academy. I can't remember the name of the street, but you can see it in Patriot Games. Harrison Ford is standing right in front of the place when the IRA assassin tries to take him out the first time.

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  11. Mike Heenan

    Mike Heenan Second Unit

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    I was at Costco the other day and noticed a Lobster bisque in a container had 20 grams of saturated fat, a full days worth. I was shocked.
     
  12. Kirk Gunn

    Kirk Gunn Screenwriter

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    Sher do, Hon ! But I've got to go get my clothes out of the "warshing" machine.... wazzup wit dat ? Or is that only the way folks from "Warshington" DC talk ?

    Chick and Ruth's is still kicking ! They have both passed away, but their son Teddy (known as "Uncle Teddy") runs it. Real nice guy, always has licorice sticks for the kids. Amazing how the waitstaff hasn't changed much in 15 yrs... My wife has her picture on the wall from before we even dated, so my daughter gets a kick out of going in. Sad, but it's the last family owned restaurant left on Main St...

    And now, back to our regularly scheduled chow-dah thread.
     
  13. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

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    Thanks all, and to Joseph for the history lesson.

    I was on a weeklong software training trip to southern NH several years ago and had some great clam chowder at a "hole-in-the-wall" joint I can't remember the name of.

    Not wanting to take the time to make my own, I just get the canned stuff here - Campbell's Chunky or Select (low-fat) or Progresso.
     
  14. Micah Cohen

    Micah Cohen Screenwriter

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  15. Kirk Gunn

    Kirk Gunn Screenwriter

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    Ah, the Sea Captains House is my wife's favorite MB eating establishment. She had their she-crab soup for the first time just 2 weeks ago - very tasty !

    Hmmmm.. maybe we need a Myrtle Beach thread...
     
  16. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    Two people from Maryland talking about seafood from SC??? [​IMG] [​IMG]

    What about Crabby Dick's in Baltimore?????
     
  17. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    And nobody talking about crab cakes? [​IMG]
     
  18. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    In a "Chowder vs. Bisque" thread, no less.
     

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