New England Fish Chowder Recipe – Beginner’s Guide To Chowder Perfection

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Set sail for a culinary journey with our Coastal Comfort New England Fish Chowder, a creamy concoction that captures the essence of the sea. Each spoonful is a harmonious blend of tender fish, diced potatoes, and savory bacon, all bathed in a rich, milky broth. A whisper of thyme adds a hint of herbal magic, while the chunks of carrot contribute a subtle sweetness. This heartwarming bowl is a lighthouse of flavor, guiding you to a comforting, coastal dining experience like no other.

New England Fish Chowder Recipe, a true culinary gem, exemplifies the rich tapestry of North Eastern American cuisine.

A veritable symphony of flavors, it marries the hearty sustenance of Atlantic sea fare with the warmth of homestyle cooking, resulting in an unmatched food experience. 

England Fish Chowder Recipe

This cherished dish dates back to the early settlers who, braving the cold, took the bounty of the Atlantic and cooked it into a chowder thickened with hardtack, a long-lasting sea biscuit. 

Today, its popularity extends far beyond the lighthouses and lobster traps of the North East, becoming a beacon of comfort food for seafood lovers everywhere. 

Our tale will embark upon a journey through the evolution of New England Fish Chowder, highlighting its transformation from a humble fisherman’s stew to a timeless classic of American dining. 

As we unravel the Fish Chowder Recipe recipe, we’ll delve into the significance of every ingredient and technique, painting a vivid picture of its gastronomical and historical impact.

Join us on this expedition to the heart of New England cuisine.

What Is England Fish Chowder?

New England Fish Chowder is a traditional, creamy seafood soup that originates from the northeastern United States, particularly the region known as New England.

This dish is deeply rooted in the area’s maritime history, where local fish, particularly cod and haddock, were plentiful and formed the basis of the region’s cuisine.

The chowder typically consists of the fish mentioned above, along with potatoes, onions, and sometimes other vegetables such as celery or carrots.

The ingredients are simmered in a broth that is often based on clam juice, fish stock, or other seafood broths. 

The distinguishing feature of New England-style chowder is the addition of milk or cream, which gives the soup its characteristic white color and creamy texture.

New England Fish Chowder is known for its comforting, hearty qualities and is traditionally served with oyster crackers or a loaf of crusty bread. 

It is a favorite in coastal communities, especially in cold weather, but is enjoyed worldwide for its rich, satisfying flavor.

England Fish Chowder Recipe

Can You Vary England Fish Chowder With Other Ingredients?

You can vary the ingredients in New England Fish Chowder to suit your tastes, and dietary preferences, or to add a twist to the traditional recipe. Here are a few variations:

  • Different Proteins Though traditionally made with white fish like cod or haddock, you can also use other types of seafood. Clams, mussels, shrimp, or even lobster can be wonderful additions.
  • Vegetables Feel free to add other vegetables to make the chowder even heartier. Corn, bell peppers, or even fennel could be added along with the traditional onions and potatoes.
  • Herbs And Spices Dill, thyme, bay leaves, or a dash of cayenne pepper can add depth of flavor to your chowder. For a smoky twist, you could even add a touch of smoked paprika.
  • Bacon Or Salt Pork Adding diced bacon or salt pork to the chowder can introduce a wonderful smoky flavor. Sauté it at the beginning with the onions for maximum flavor.
  • Dairy Alternatives If you’re lactose intolerant or following a vegan diet, you could use dairy-free milk alternatives such as almond milk, coconut milk, or oat milk.
    The texture and taste might vary slightly from traditional chowder, but it can still make a delicious and satisfying meal.
  • Gluten-Free Variation If you’re gluten intolerant, you can thicken the chowder with cornstarch or a gluten-free flour blend instead of regular flour.
England Fish Chowder Recipe

Recipe Directions

Prepare the Soup Base

  • Cook bacon until crispy, remove and set aside.
  • Sauté onion in bacon grease with butter until translucent and slightly browned.
  • Sprinkle flour over onions and cook to remove raw flour taste.
  • Gradually add clam broth, stirring constantly. Simmer with diced potatoes until tender.

Prepare the Cream Topping

  • Warm heavy cream in a separate saucepan.

Finish the Soup

  • Add chunks of fish to the soup base and simmer until cooked through.
  • Stir in warmed heavy cream, cooked bacon, salt, and pepper. Heat until hot.

To Serve

  • Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  • Ladle the hot chowder into bowls.
  • Optionally garnish with fresh parsley or chives.
  • Serve with crusty bread on the side.
England Fish Chowder Recipe

Variations, Add Ons, And Toppings

Variations And Add-Ons

  • Different Seafood: Switch up the type of fish you use or mix in other seafood such as clams, shrimp, or lobster for a more deluxe chowder.
  • Extra Vegetables: Consider adding additional vegetables like corn, carrots, or bell peppers for extra color and texture.
  • Smoky Flavor: For a smoky twist, you can add smoked paprika or replace the bacon with smoked salmon.
  • Herbs And Spices: Enhance the flavor with fresh herbs such as thyme, dill, or bay leaves. For heat, try a pinch of cayenne pepper or a splash of hot sauce.
  • Dairy-Free Or Gluten-Free: Use dairy-free milk alternatives for a lactose-free version or a gluten-free flour blend for those with gluten sensitivity.


  • Crumbled Bacon: Set aside some of the bacon used in the chowder and sprinkle it on top just before serving for a crispy, salty garnish.
  • Fresh Herbs: Sprinkle freshly chopped parsley, chives, or dill on top to add a touch of freshness.
  • Crackers Or Croutons: Add some crunch with oyster crackers, saltine crackers, or homemade croutons.
  • Cheese: While not traditional, a sprinkle of sharp cheddar or Parmesan can add a nice flavor contrast.
  • Green Onions: Slice some green onions or chives for a mild onion flavor and a pop of color.
  • Sour Cream Or Greek Yogurt: A small dollop can add a nice tang and make the chowder even creamier.
England Fish Chowder Recipe

Can I Make Soup In A Slow Cooker Or Instant Pot?

Slow Cooker

  • In a pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. In the remaining bacon grease, sauté the diced onion until translucent.
  • Transfer the onion to your slow cooker and the cooked bacon, diced potatoes, clam broth, salt, and pepper. 
  • Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until the potatoes are tender.
  • About 30 minutes before serving, add the chunks of fish and heavy cream to the slow cooker. Stir gently to combine, then cover and continue to cook on low.
  • Adjust seasoning before serving, if needed.

Instant Pot

  • Using the sauté function, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. In the remaining bacon grease, sauté the diced onion until translucent.
  • Add the flour to the onions, stirring well to combine. Gradually pour in the clam broth, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.
  • Add the diced potatoes, salt, and pepper to the Instant Pot. Secure the lid and set the vent to sealing. Cook on manual high pressure for 10 minutes.
  • Once the cooking time is up, quickly release the pressure. Open the lid and add the chunks of fish and heavy cream. Replace the lid and allow the heat of the soup to cook the fish (about 10 minutes).
  • Stir in the cooked bacon and adjust the seasoning before serving, if needed.
England Fish Chowder Recipe

Can I Use Store Bought Broth Or Should I Make My Own?

Store-bought broth

  • This is a quick and convenient option. You can find a variety of broths available, including fish, clam, and vegetable broths, that would all work well in this chowder. When purchasing, try to find a low-sodium version to control your chowder’s salt level.

Homemade broth

  • If you have the time and ingredients, homemade broth can add a depth of flavor to your chowder that store-bought versions can’t match. You could make fish stock using fish bones and scraps or seafood stock using shrimp shells or other seafood remnants. Add some aromatic vegetables (like onions, carrots, and celery), herbs, and spices, and simmer for an hour before straining.
England Fish Chowder Recipe

How To Serve?

  • Timing: Chowder, like many soups and stews, often tastes even better the next day after the flavors have had a chance to meld. However, if you’re serving it the same day it’s made, let it rest for at least 15-30 minutes off the heat before serving. 
  • Temperature: Serve the chowder hot but not boiling. You want it to be warm enough to enjoy but not so hot that it burns your mouth.
  • Presentation: Ladle the chowder into warm bowls, ensuring each serving has a good mix of fish, potatoes, and broth. 
  • Garnish: Sprinkle some freshly chopped parsley or chives on top for a burst of color and freshness. A crack of black pepper can also add visual appeal and flavor.
  • Accompaniments: New England Fish Chowder is traditionally served with oyster crackers or a crusty baguette on the side. A simple green salad or coleslaw can also balance out the richness of the chowder.
    For a beverage, consider a crisp white wine or a local craft beer if you enjoy alcohol.
England Fish Chowder Recipe

Perfect Side Dishes

  • Crusty Bread Or Oyster Crackers: A piece of fresh, crusty bread or a handful of oyster crackers is perfect for sopping up the flavorful broth. You could also try cornbread for a slight twist.
  • Green Salad: A light, fresh salad with a vinaigrette can balance the richness of the chowder. Try mixed greens with cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and a light lemon vinaigrette.
  • Roasted Vegetables: Roasted Brussels sprouts, carrots, or asparagus can add a nice contrast and additional nutrients. The slight sweetness from roasting pairs well with the savory chowder.
  • Coleslaw: A classic side for any seafood dish, coleslaw can provide a nice crunch and tanginess to contrast with the creamy chowder.
  • Corn On The Cob: Especially in the summer, fresh corn on the cob could be a great side dish. It’s a nod to the corn often included in some versions of chowder.
  • Pickles: The acidity and crunch of pickled cucumbers, beets, or even kimchi can be a nice contrast to the rich, creamy chowder.
Perfect Side Dishes

Storage And Make Ahead

  • Storage: Once prepared, allow the New England Fish Chowder to cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Make Ahead: Prepare the chowder as directed, then allow it to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. When ready to serve, gently reheat the chowder on the stove over low heat, stirring occasionally until heated through. This make-ahead option is convenient for busy days or entertaining, allowing you to enjoy a delicious meal with minimal effort.
Storage And Make Ahead

What Can We Do With Leftovers?

  • Pasta Sauce: Mix the chowder with some freshly cooked pasta. The fish and creamy sauce will work well as a rich pasta sauce. Add some freshly chopped herbs and a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten the flavors.
  • Seafood Pot Pie: Use the chowder as the base for a seafood pot pie. Simply place it in a baking dish, cover it with a rolled-out pie crust or puff pastry, and bake until golden brown.
  • Chowder Baked Potatoes: If your leftover chowder is on the thicker side, use it as a stuffing for baked potatoes. Top it with some cheese and bake until the cheese is bubbly and golden.
  • Seafood Risotto: Stir the chowder into a simple risotto towards the end of the cooking time. The creamy broth will make the risotto even more flavorful.


  • Enhance the flavor by using a combination of fresh fish like cod, haddock, and/or halibut rather than relying solely on one type.
  • Add depth to the broth by incorporating seafood stock instead of just water or regular chicken broth.
  • For a creamy consistency without overwhelming richness, opt for a blend of whole milk and half-and-half instead of heavy cream.
  • Elevate the taste with a dash of Worcestershire sauce or a splash of dry white wine to balance the sweetness of the vegetables.
  • Include a variety of vegetables such as onions, celery, and carrots, finely diced for even distribution and texture.
  • Amp up the aroma by adding fresh herbs like thyme and parsley during the final stages of cooking.
New England Fish Chowder Recipe - Beginner's Guide To Chowder Perfection

New England Fish Chowder Recipe – Beginner’s Guide To Chowder Perfection

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Course: Chowder Recipe


Prep time


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To prepare New England Fish Chowder, start by sautéing onions and celery. Add diced potatoes, then cover with fish stock, cooking until tender. Add fresh white fish, simmering until cooked through. Finally, stir in heavy cream for a rich finish. Season to taste, serve hot, and garnish with fresh herbs.


  • 3 Slices 3 Bacon, Diced

  • 1 1 Large Onion, Diced

  • 4 4 Yukon Gold Or Red-Skinned Potatoes, Diced

  • 2 Tablespoons 2 Butter

  • 3 Tablespoons 3 All-Purpose Unbleached Flour

  • 1 Quart 1 Clam Broth

  • 1/2 Cup 1/2 Heavy Cream

  • 2 Pounds 2 Cod Or Other White Fish, Cut Into Large Chunks

  • 1/2 Teaspoon 1/2 Kosher Salt(Or More To Taste)

  • 1/2 Teaspoon 1/2 Fresh Black Pepper(Or More To Taste)

Step-By-Step Directions

  • Prepare The Soup Base
    Heat a large pot over medium heat, then add the diced bacon. Cook until the bacon is crispy and the fat has rendered out. Remove the cooked bacon with a slotted spoon, set it aside for later, and leave the bacon grease in the pot.
  • Add the butter to the pot, let it melt, then add the diced onion. Sauté until the onion is translucent and beginning to brown, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the flour over the onions, stirring well to incorporate it into the butter and onion mixture. Cook for a couple of minutes to remove the raw flour taste.
  • Gradually pour in the clam broth, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
  • Add the diced potatoes to the pot, cover, and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  • Prepare The Cream Topping
    While the soup base is cooking, gently heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat. You want it warmed, but not boiling.
  • Finish The Soup
    Once the potatoes are tender, add the chunks of fish to the soup base. Simmer for another 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through and easily flakes with a fork.
  • Stir in the warmed heavy cream, cooked bacon, salt, and pepper. Heat the chowder for a few more minutes until it is hot throughout.
  • To Serve
    Taste the chowder and adjust the seasoning if needed.
  • Ladle the hot chowder into serving bowls. You can garnish with a sprinkle of fresh parsley or chives if you like.
  • Serve with crusty bread on the side to soak up all the delicious, creamy broth. Enjoy this warming, comforting New England Fish Chowder!
  • Large Pot Or Dutch Oven
  • Sharp Knife And Cutting Board
  • Measuring Cups And Spoons
  • Wooden Spoon Or Spatula
  • Ladle
  • Bowls And spoons For serving


  • Quality Ingredients: As with any dish, the quality of your ingredients will significantly impact the final result. Use the freshest fish you can find. Try sourcing locally caught fish for the best flavor.
  • Don’t Overcook the Fish: Fish can easily become tough and overcooked. It only needs a few minutes to cook through in the hot soup, so add it last to keep it tender and flaky.
  • Adjust the Creaminess: If you prefer a lighter soup, you can cut back on the heavy cream or replace some of it with milk. Add more heavy cream or cream cheese if you want it even creamier.
  • Play with Herbs and Spices: The recipe calls for salt and pepper, but add other herbs and spices to suit your taste. Thyme, bay leaf, or a dash of cayenne pepper can all add interesting notes to the chowder.
  • Potato Choice: Waxy potatoes like Yukon Gold or red potatoes hold their shape better in the soup and give a nice texture. However, if you prefer a thicker soup, starchy potatoes like Russets can help thicken it as they break down.
  • Cooking Time: Don’t rush the cooking process. Letting the chowder simmer will help all the flavors meld together.

Nutrition Table

Nutrition Table

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