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    Creamy Fish Chowder Recipe

    Published March 3, 2023. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

    You will love this Creamy Fish Chowder Recipe that is loaded up with Yukon potatoes, crispy bacon, fresh fish, and herbs in a delicious creamy broth. This is an easy-to-make hearty soup that is a great way to use up leftover seafood.

    I’m a massive fan of cooking and serving seafood because it’s simple to prepare and it cooks in minutes. If you are similar and love it, you must try my Sicilian Swordfish or my Blackened Salmon.

    bowl of fish chowder


     

    Fish Chowder

    Fish chowder is a thick chunky seafood soup consisting of onions, celery, potatoes, seafood, stock, and milk. In the early days of this 18th-century recipe, it didn’t initially start off using clams like in the classic clam chowder we know today. The seafood in the chowder was whatever was caught in the ocean. This could be fish, clams, lobster, or anything they were able to gather was used.

    The word chowder gets its roots in the Latin word calderia, which originally meant a place for warming things, like a cauldron, that big black pot that hangs over the fire. In French, the word became chaudiere which describes fishermen who made their stews fresh from the sea.

    This recipe can be customized to your liking depending on what seafood is available.

    Ingredients and Substitutions

    fish chowder ingredients
    • Fish – Any fish is good to use. You can additionally add shellfish to this recipe. I used halibut, cod, sea bass, and sablefish.  
    • Bacon – Regular-cut bacon will add a lot of flavor to the soup.
    • Onions – I like to use a combination of yellow onions, leeks, and garlic. You can use white, sweet, or yellow onions for this recipe.
    • Celery – A few thick-sliced celery ribs add a lot of body and flavor to the soup.
    • Potatoes – You can use Yukon gold, russet, or red potatoes in this recipe.
    • Herbs – I used bay leaves and dry thyme in the soup and garnished with chopped fresh parsley and thyme.
    • Wine – Cream sherry makes this fish chowder incredibly flavorful. Other options are regular sherry, white wine, or vermouth.
    • Cream – Half and half is perfect in this. However, you can use whole milk or heavy whipping cream.
    • Stock – I used homemade fish fumet in this recipe. The other alternatives are clam stock, water, a combination of clam and water, or chicken stock.

    How to Make Fish Chowder

    Remove the skin from your fish, and season both sides with salt and pepper.

    seasoning fish

    Start by browning some diced bacon in a large rondeau pot over medium heat, which takes about 6 to 8 minutes.

    cooking crisp bacon

    Remove the bacon and set it aside.

    adding crispy bacon to a bowl

    Turn the heat to high until it begins to lightly smoke and add in the fish and 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, and sear it for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until it starts to turn brown. If the fish falls apart, it’s no problem. I sear it to add more flavor to the fish and soup.

    searing fish

    Remove the fish and set it to the side.

    adding cooked fish to a plate

    Add the onions and leeks to the pot and cook over low to medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until browned while occasionally stirring.

    cooking onions

    Pour in the celery and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.

    adding celery to cooked onions

    Stir in the garlic until fragrant, which takes 30 to 45 seconds.

    adding garlic to celery and onions

    Deglaze with the cream sherry and cook to au sec or almost gone and absorbed.

    cream sherry cooking in a pot of vegetables

    Add in the stock, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and potatoes, and bring to a boil.

    adding spices and stock to a pot

    Once boiling, turn the heat to low-medium, and place back in the pre-seared fish.

    simmering fish in a pot

    Place on a lid and cook for about 5 minutes until the fish is cooked.

    adding a lid to a pot

    In the meantime, heat the half and half in a small pot until scalded.

    scalding cream in a pot

    Add back in the crispy bacon, and pour the half and half into the chowder with Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Gently stir the soup to incorporate the flavors and to break apart the fish into large bite-size pieces.

    breaking up a fish chowder

    Serve with optional garnishes of chopped fresh parsley, thyme leaves, and oyster crackers.

    fish chowder in a bowl with oyster crackers

    What’s the Best Fish to Use?

    You can use pre-frozen or fresh fish in this fish chowder. Here are my favorite fish to use:

    • Halibut
    • Bass
    • Snapper
    • Cod
    • Salmon
    • Tuna
    • Mahi Mahi
    • Haddock
    • Walleye

    Make-Ahead and Storage

    Make-Ahead: This soup is meant to be eaten right away, but you can make it up to 1 day ahead of time. 

    How to Store: Cover and keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Cover and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for 1 day, or until thawed, before reheating and serving.

    How to Reheat: Add the desired amount of fish chowder to a small pot and cook over low heat while whisking until warm. You can also heat it in a microwave until warm.

    Chef Billy Parisi

    CHEF NOTES + TIPS

    • White wine options are chardonnay, pinot grigio, or sauvignon Blanc.
    • This makes a substantial amount of soup, so cut the ingredients in half if necessary.
    • If you are nervous about pan-searing the fish, place it in seasoned and raw in step 12 and cook for a total of 15 minutes instead of 5.

    More Fish Recipes

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    Creamy Fish Chowder Recipe

    5 from 25 votes
    You will love this Fish Chowder Recipe that is loaded with Yukon potatoes, crispy bacon, fresh fish, and herbs in a delicious creamy broth.
    Servings: 8
    Prep Time: 20 minutes
    Cook Time: 1 hour
    Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

    Ingredients 

    • 2 pounds fish, cod, halibut, bass, etc.
    • 8 strips of bacon, cut into thin slices
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 peeled and small diced yellow onion
    • 2 thinly sliced leeks
    • 6 thickly sliced ribs of celery
    • 2 finely minced cloves of garlic
    • ½ cup creamy sherry
    • 6 cups fish stock, clam juice, or water
    • 2 teaspoons dry thyme
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 4 large Yukon potatoes, cut into 1” cubes or quarter moons
    • 2 cups half and half
    • Worcestershire to taste
    • Hot sauce to taste
    • sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

    Instructions

    • Remove the skin from your fish, and season both sides with salt and pepper.
    • Start by browning some diced bacon in a large rondeau pot over medium heat, which takes about 6 to 8 minutes.
    • Remove the bacon and set it aside.
    • Turn the heat to high until it begins to lightly smoke and add in the fish, 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, and sear it for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until it starts to turn brown. If the fish falls apart, it’s no problem. I sear it to add more flavor to the fish and soup.
    • Remove the fish and set it to the side.
    • Add the onions and leeks to the pot and cook over low to medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until browned while occasionally stirring.
    • Pour in the celery and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
    • Stir in the garlic just until fragrant, which takes 30 to 45 seconds.
    • Deglaze with the cream sherry and cook to au sec or almost gone and absorbed.
    • Add in the stock, thyme, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and potatoes, and bring to a boil.
    • Once boiling, turn the heat to low-medium, and place back in the pre-seared fish.
    • Place on a lid and cook for about 5 minutes until the fish is cooked through.
    • In the meantime, heat the half and half in a small pot until scalded.
    • Add back in the crispy bacon, and pour the half and half into the chowder with Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt, and pepper.
    • Gently stir the soup to incorporate the flavors and to break apart the fish into large bite-size pieces.
    • Serve with optional garnishes of chopped fresh parsley, thyme leaves, and oyster crackers.

    Notes

    Make-Ahead: This soup is meant to be eaten immediately, but you can make it up to 1 day ahead. 
    How to Store: Cover and keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Cover and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for 1 day, or until thawed, before reheating and serving.
    How to Reheat: Add the desired amount of fish chowder to a small pot and cook over low heat while whisking until warm. You can also heat it in a microwave until warm.
    White wine options are chardonnay, pinot grigio, or sauvignon Blanc.
    This makes a substantial amount of soup, so cut the ingredients in half if necessary.
    If you are nervous about pan-searing the fish, place it in seasoned and raw in step 12 and cook for a total of 15 minutes instead of 5.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 437kcalCarbohydrates: 25gProtein: 34gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 100mgSodium: 859mgPotassium: 1137mgFiber: 3gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 850IUVitamin C: 23mgCalcium: 176mgIron: 3mg
    Course: Soup
    Cuisine: Alaskan, American