A type of soup that contains a variety of ingredients that may include potatoes, other vegetables, milk, cream, meats, and herbs made into a hearty food that is always served hot. Chowders will typically have a greater proportion of solid ingredients than liquid. A chowder is commonly prepared with ingredients that are specific to a region or according to what is available and seasonal at the time. For example, the addition of clam or fish pieces to make clam or fish chowder is a New England dish specific to their region, but one that is popular throughout the world. Corn chowders often are served around the time that fresh corn is harvested, but can be served throughout the year. Other chowders such as chicken or sausage chowder are made in a variety of different ways to be served whenever it is appropriate or desired.
Chowders may use milk or cream as the base for the soup. If it is cream based, a roux is often prepared to thicken the soup. Instead of roux, potatoes, which contain high levels of starch, are another source of thickening for chowders and will not thicken the preparation as much as a roux. Potatoes such as russets are the best for thickening since they contain high levels of starch and low levels of moisture.