Chowders are associated with New England, but the origin of the word is French, derived from chaudiere, or cauldron.
"The Dictionary of American Food and Drink" states it was usual for Breton sailors to use a large cauldron to combine the catches for a communal stew. The custom traveled to Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and eventually to New England, where it took on a Yankee identity.Clam chowder - creamy New England or Manhattan red - comes first to mind, but chowder encompasses a number of hearty soups and can be made with corn, chicken or fish.
The established criteria is that chunks or bits of the ingredients be present in the finished product. While it is not mandatory, milk or cream often constitutes part of the broth. Properly made, chowders are a meal in themselves and need only be served with bread or crackers.