This Seafood Chowder is fairly traditional and super delicious. It’s loaded with shrimp, scallop, and cod and thickened with crackers instead of flour. If you’re looking for prime-cold-weather soup, here’s a great Chowder to keep you warm!
A foundation of flavor.
Great soups are made with one common, under-appreciated ingredient – TIME. You could absolutely make Seafood Chowder in a half hour by throwing everything into a pot and cooking it until it’s hot. The problem with this 30-minute soup, though, is that you’re not really developing the most flavor your vegetables have to offer; especially if your knife skills aren’t all that great.
The ability to control the size of your fresh ingredients will go a long way in developing layers of flavor. A finely diced onion will get tender in a shorter period of time than would a larger diced onion. A one-inch dice of potato is going to hold together in a simmering soup for longer than a half-inch dice of potato. Cooking is less about the recipe than it is controlling time, temp, and mass.
Allowing prepared ingredients to develop maximum flavor over a period of time isn’t something that can easily be written into a recipe. Use your senses. Watch the onions as they sweat. Are the edges browning too quickly? Turn down the heat or even remove the pan from the stove. Listen to your food as it cooks. It should make some sizzling noises but it shouldn’t be screaming. And, most importantly, taste as you go. This includes tasting vegetables before they even go in the pot.
What makes a chowder?
When I think of ‘CHOWDER’ I think of a semi-viscous white broth containing potatoes, bacon, corn, and probably seafood. The history of chowder suggests there really isn’t a strict definition. Originally, chowder was simply a soup cooked in a chowder pot or cauldron. Many chowders are made with dairy and use some sort of flower or cracker for thickening. But then there’s Manhattan and New Jersey clam chowder, among others, which have a tomato broth. So, who the heck knows!?
This seafood chowder starts with a base of finely chopped vegetables softened for 30 minutes with crispy bacon and it’s rendered fat. You could buy clam juice for this chowder but I prefer to make a super quick shrimp stock from freshly peeled and deveined shrimp. Instead of a roux, this soup is thickened with crackers; either oyster crackers or saltines will work. The broth is finished with a cup of heavy cream for added richness and smoothness. Frozen corn added about five minutes before completion adds a sweet little pop of sweetness that I love. Finally, the seafood. You can use whatever you like here. I’ve used cod, shrimp, and scallops. They don’t need much time to cook at all, less than 4 minutes total for all the fish.
This is a truly fantastic soup for the cold weather coming this winter (although, it’s supposed to be nearly 70° in a couple days!). I’m really happy I tried the old school method of using crackers instead of roux. This gives you the option to thicken the soup a little more later in the cooking process. If you’re looking to become a better home cook, I really recommend focusing on your knife skills and understanding how everything cooks when you add it to the pot. Layer that flavor!
- Eat Up!
- 2 tsp Vegetable Oil
- 3 Slices Bacon
- 1/2 Cup Finely Diced Onion
- 1/2 Cup Sliced Carrot
- 1/2 Cup Finely Diced Celery
- 1/2 Cup Finely Diced Fennel Bulb
- 1/2 Cup Finely Diced Leek
- 5 Springs Fresh Thyme
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1 1/2 Cup Shrimp Stock
- 3 Cups Water
- 1 1/2 Cup Diced Red Potato
- 1/2 Cup Smashed Oyster Crackers or Saltines
- 1 Cup Heavy Cream
- 1/2 lb. Cod
- 1/2 lb. Scallop
- 1/2 lb. Shrimp
- 3/4 Cup Frozen Corn
- 1 Tbs Vegetable Oil
- Shrimp Peels
- 1/2 Onion sliced
- 1/2 Leek sliced
- 1/2 Celery Stalk sliced
- 1/2 Carrot sliced
- 1 Clove Garlic smashed
- 2 Sprigs Thyme
- 4 Springs Parsley
- 1 tsp Black Peppercorns
- 1 1/2 Cup Water
- Chop bacon into half-inch pieces. Add Bacon and Vegetable Oil to a large soup pot or dutch oven. Turn on heat to medium-low. Gently cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until it begins to get crispy.
- Prepare the vegetables by finely chopping a 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup each of onion, celery, carrots, fennel, and leek. Once the bacon has rendered all its fat and has started to crisp up, add all the vegetables along with the thyme and bay leaf. Continue to cook the vegetables over medium-low heat until nice and tender - about 25-30 minutes. Stir occasionally and adjust the heat so they vegetables don’t brown.
- While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the fish and the shrimp stock (instructions below). Chop the cod into 1 inch pieces. Peel and devein the shrimp saving the peel.
- Add the shrimp stock to the pot and scrape up any bacon and vegetable bits from the bottom of the pot. Gently simmer for about 20-25 minutes for flavors to combine.
- Add potatoes and 3 1/2 cups of water. Gently simmer the soup over medium / medium-low heat until potatoes are tender - about 15 minutes.
- Add crushed up crackers and stir the soup until it thickens.
- Add the heavy cream and bring it up to temp before tasting for salt and pepper. Season to taste.
- Cook each of the following ingredients for 30 seconds before adding the next; corn, cod, scallops, shrimp. The chowder is done once the shrimp turn pink and opaque.
- Serve topped with freshly minced parsley and oyster crackers or saltines.
- In a medium pot; add oil, shrimp peels, peppercorns, a clove of garlic, fresh thyme and parsley, and any left over bits of vegetable you have including onion, curly, carrot, leeks, fennel. Cook in the oil for a few minutes to develop flavor. Once the shrimp peels turn pink, cover with 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a gentle simmer for about 10 minutes.