marisa mariella

easy mouthwatering recipes that unite your family and friends

My Seafood Chowder

Not many dishes can play the various roles that seafood chowder can. Easy enough to prepare for my family on any cold wintery night, this dish is also impressively elegant enough to serve at a dinner party. Hot and creamy, comforting and nourishing, this chowder is one of my go-to recipes when I need to feel grounded or when I am looking for a memorable menu item for my guests. If you’ve had chowder at restaurants, you’ll know that there are a million variations. Some are so rich that a small bowl can sometimes be too much to finish. Some are lighter in texture but manage to deliver an intensely satisfying flavour and mouthfeel. My seafood chowder tends to be on the lighter side, both in consistency and calories, but it still hits all the right notes. Remember that this dish can seem intimidating but it is incredibly uncomplicated and easily customizable to suit your preferences. Use the amounts as guides. And by the way, I do like making a large batch so I can upcycle the dish the next day by adding cooked fettuccine or penne to the re-heated chowder. Don't tell anyone...I even add some grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Love my Italian heritage!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Brunch, dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings 10 servings


  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or butter
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 leek white and light green part only, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 large potato such as Russet or Yukon Gold, peeled and cubed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large sprig of fresh herbs like thyme or parsely
  • 6 cups fish stock or water enough to cover vegetables in pot
  • salt and black pepper to taste adjust seasonings if using salted stock
  • 5 fillet of firm fish of your choice such as Rock fish, pickerel, cod, chopped in large cubes
  • About 2 pounds of seafood such as scallops de-veined and de-shelled shrimp, crab chunks, cleaned lobster chunks (I used scallops and shrimp)
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ to ½ cup cup whipping cream
  • Freshly chopped parsley to garnish


  • Place heavy-bottomed, large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil. If using butter, add to melt.
  • Then stir in onions and leek to soften, about 3 minutes.
  • Add celery and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring to not burn.
  • Stir in garlic.
  • Add potatoes and stir.
  • Add enough stock to cover vegetables. If using frozen stock, no need to defrost.
  • Season with salt and black pepper.
  • Add fresh herbs. Place lid to cover pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender but not mushy, about 10-15 minutes (depending on the size of the chop). Stir occasionally, adding a little more liquid if it has evaporated.
  • In a small bowl, use fork to dissolve cornstarch in water.
  • Remove lid to pot and stir in cornstarch mixture.
  • Immediately add fish and seafood. Submerge in liquid. Return lid to cover and once liquid begins simmering, allow seafood to cook for about 5 minutes or until opaque and tender. Do not over cook. The liquid will thicken as it simmers.
  • Add cream and stir until heated through but do not boil to avoid cream from separating. Remove herbs and adjust seasonings, adding more salt and/or pepper if necessary
  • Ladle hot chowder in bowls. Garnish with fresh parsley.
  • Serve hot with crusty bread.
  • In the video, I served it with a few pieces of freshly crispy battered fish.


Heavy cream ensures a rich and creamy chowder. Sometimes, for a less caloric version, I replace the cream with full-fat milk and lightly increase the amount of cornstarch added to the water used to thicken the chowder.
Consider adding 1 cup frozen corn niblets to the vegetables. 
Many chowders start by rendering bacon. I do love the taste but I often forgo it. Interestingly, no one seems to complain at home. If you’d like to use bacon, then begin with adding a few slices of chopped bacon to the pot. If the bacon is fatty enough, you may not need extra oil or butter. Cook until fat is rendered and bacon is crispy. You can remove some of the bacon to garnish the soup when serving. Then continue with the rest of the recipe.
If the chowder becomes too thick, add a little more liquid such as water, milk, stock, or even cream.
I usually add frozen seafood stock but you can use store-bought or even water.
Here's how to make seafood stock to freeze. It’s even easier to make than chicken stock. Next time you buy shrimp, buy them with their shells. Once deshelled, rinse shells and place in a heavy bottom pot. Add a little olive oil, a little chopped garlic, a few parsley stems, a rib of celery, a bay leaf and add enough cold water to cover the ingredients. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Cover and let simmer for about 30 minutes.
Strain and discard shell mixture.
Cool the stock and place in freezer bags. You can freeze in 2 cup portions for convenience. 
Be sure to label and date. Freeze for future use. If I don't have enough shrimp shells, I freeze the shells to accumulate at least 3 cups of shells. 
Keyword celery, chowder, cream cheese, creamy, fish, garlic, mashed potatoes, onions, seafood, soup, thyme