Use this recipe to learn how to make prize-winning seafood chowder using seafood that’s available where you live. Rich and creamy New England style chowder!
I had my fill of seafood chowder during our recent trip to Nova Scotia, enjoying bowl after bowl of rich creamy broth full of lobster, scallops and haddock. I couldn’t wait to get home and make my own West Coast chowder. Today I’m sharing my basic guide for how to make prize-winning seafood chowder using seafood that is available where you live.
This seafood chowder recipe is one that I’ve made for years. I change it according to the type of fish or seafood I happen to have on hand. While I vary the seafood, some things I never change.
Tips to make the best seafood chowder
- I use smoked salmon instead of bacon for flavour so that my pescetarian friends can eat it.
- I never add clams. If I use canned clams, there’s a risk they’ll become rubbery, and using fresh clams requires another step to this recipe. I like to keep it easy by simmering it all in one pot, with no extra steps.
- I don’t over-season it. Chowder should be fairly mild, allowing the natural flavour of the seafood to shine.
- I load it up with seafood so that, along with a salad, it makes a complete meal.
How to make prize-winning seafood chowder in four steps
- Sauté onions and celery.
- Make a roux, then add the clam nectar and broth in which to cook the potatoes.
- Add the seafood and seasonings, and cook just until tender, watching carefully to avoid overcooking.
- Stir in the cream, heat gently, garnish and serve.
An easy New England style chowder packed full of seafood!
- I always begin by sautéing onions and celery and make the base with a roux , then add clam juice and either chicken or vegetable broth, (depending if I’m serving pescetarians or not.)
- I cook the potatoes and optional carrots in this slightly thickened broth until tender, then add the seafood, remembering that small cubes of fish and fresh shrimp and scallops take very little time to cook. It’s very easy to overcook seafood. There is no option for “well done” when cooking fish, shrimp, or scallops!
- While some New England style chowder recipes advise cooking the seafood in milk, I like to cook the vegetables and fish in broth, then add the cream just at the end to produce a creamy smooth chowder. Adding it just before serving prevents the cream from curdling and keeps the texture velvety.
What to serve with Seafood Chowder
Can I make this ahead of time?
While it’s best to cook the seafood just before serving, you can prepare much of this recipe the day before you plan to serve it. For example, you can:
- Sauté the carrots and celery, make a roux and add the clam nectar and broth. Cool and refrigerate.
- If using frozen seafood, thaw and refrigerate.
- Remove shells from the shrimp or prawns, cover and refrigerate.
Then, when ready to cook, gently heat the broth you’ve prepared. Cook the potatoes and carrots and proceed with the rest of the recipe.
I hope you find this basic recipe helpful to create your own “prize-winning” chowder, using seafood that’s available where you live!
And if you love tomato-based seafood dishes, you might like this San Francisco-style Simple Cioppino that anyone can make.
How to Make Prize-Winning Seafood Chowder
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
- 1 cup onion chopped
- 1 cup celery chopped
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 8 oz. jars natural clam juice
- 4 cups organic chicken or vegetable stock
- 3 large potatoes peeled and cubed into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 medium carrot peeled and sliced
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika or regular paprika
- 4 oz hot-smoked salmon skin removed
- 8 oz wild salmon skin and pin bones removed, cut in bite-sized pieces
- 8 oz wild white fish like halibut, cod, haddock, or sole, skin and pin bones removed, cut in bite-sized pieces
- 16 - 24 large shrimp or prawns, peeled
- 12 scallops
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 tbsp lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 1 or 2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 cup 10% cream (called "half and half" in Canada)
- 1 tbsp fresh dill chopped, plus more for garnish
- In a large pot or stock pot, heat butter and oil over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and cook until soft and transparent but not browned, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the flour, making a roux, then add the broth and the clam nectar. Add the potatoes, carrots, thyme, bay leaf and paprika. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender but not mushy.
- Add the seafood, wine and seasonings, stir gently and cook uncovered for about 10 minutes.
- Gently stir in the cream, being careful not to let to boil after this is added. Remove the bay leaf.
- Garnish with more fresh dill and serve hot.
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