Rich and hearty, this savory New England Fish Chowder Recipe has a flavorful broth with chunks of white fish and plenty of vegetables.
I can’t think of a more comforting chowder. This one is easy to make, features layers of flavor, and will have you spooning up every last drop from your bowl.
Traditional New England Fish Chowder Recipe
A few characteristics of traditional New England fish chowder are: no tomatoes, no flour, and a light, delicately-flavored broth.
How Do You Thicken Fish Chowder?
Traditionally, it’s only thickened with potatoes and cream.
I used whole milk with a touch of flour in this recipe, but you could add a splash of cream for more richness, and an even more luscious flavor and texture.
For me, this dish is really all about the broth. There is a subtle sweetness from the milk and veggies, smokiness from the bacon, brightness from the thyme, and complexity from the white wine. It’s pure comfort food.
Pro Tip: Whole milk works well here, but don’t use low-fat milk because it may curdle. Additionally it won’t give it the thickness you’re looking for.
What Kind of Fish to Use for Fish Chowder
Flaky white fish is typically used to make chowder. A few good types are:
How Long Does Fish Chowder Keep in the Fridge?
Stored in an airtight container in the fridge, this New England Fish Chowder Recipe will keep for about 3 days.
Can I Reheat Fish Chowder?
Yes! To reheat it, cook it gently over low heat until warm.
Be sure not to let it boil because this can cause the milk to curdle. Also, avoid stirring because this can break up the fish too much and can cause it to completely disintegrate.
What Goes Well with Fish Chowder?
- Garlic Bread Drop Biscuits
- Homemade Oyster Crackers
- Saltines From Scratch
- Low Carb Biscuits (Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits Copycat)
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New England Fish Chowder Recipe
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 slices turkey bacon chopped (or beef bacon; omit the butter if using beef bacon)
- 1 medium onion diced small
- 2 medium-large carrots diced small
- 1 large stalk celery diced small
- 2 large cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
- 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 medium waxy potato such as Yukon Gold, peeled cut into about 1-inch cubes
- 1 1/2 cups fish stock or use 1 1/2 cups water + 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 pound fresh white fish fillets bones and skin removed
- Heat the butter in a 3-quart pot over medium heat. Once melted, add the turkey bacon and sauté until starting to get crispy, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the onion, carrot, and celery, and cook until starting to soften, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and thyme and cook 30 seconds, then add the flour and cook 30 seconds more, stirring constantly.
- Add the wine, bay leaf, salt, and pepper; turn the heat up to medium-high and cook until the liquid is reduced by 1/2 to 3/4, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the potato and fish stock and let it come up to a boil (the veggies should be just barely covered with liquid). Turn the heat down to low, cover the pot, and simmer until the veggies are fork-tender, about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Add the milk and whole fish fillets, making sure they are completely submerged in liquid (they will break into smaller pieces while cooking). Cover the pot and cook until the fish is cooked, about 10 minutes; don’t stir until it’s done. (Make sure it doesn’t boil so the milk doesn’t curdle; the fish is done when it is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.)
- Taste the chowder and season with additional salt and pepper as desired.
- Recipe adapted from The Heart of New England’s recipe for Authentic New England Fish Chowder.
- Whole milk works well here, but don't use low-fat milk because it may curdle. Additionally it won’t give it the thickness you’re looking for. Add a splash of cream for more richness.
- For this chowder, I like to use haddock, halibut, cod, or pollock.
- Stored in an airtight container in the fridge, this chowder will keep for about 3 days.
- To reheat this chowder, cook it gently over low heat until warm. Be sure not to let it boil because this can cause the milk to curdle. Also, avoid stirring because this can break up the fish too much and can cause it to completely disintegrate.
This post was first published on An Edible Mosaic on January 4, 2011. It was updated with new photos on January 23, 2015, and more information on April 13, 2020. As a point of comparison to show how much my photography has evolved, I kept one of my original photos (below).
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