What Makes Great Seafood Chowder?

What could be better on a cold winter day than a steaming bowl of thick, creamy clam chowder? It soothes the throat and warms the stomach as it fills you up. Yet most of us reserve this treat for trips to seafood restaurants or for heating up a can. Most people do not make their own clam chowder. It really is not as intimidating as you may think.


The most important ingredient you need to make classic seafood chowder is fresh seafood. You can use clams, oysters, shrimp, fish, or any other seafood you want. You will need to get the freshest seafood possible. One of the best places to get fresh seafood is a seafood market. Most towns will have at least one decent seafood market. If you are lucky, you may also live in a city large enough to have wholesale seafood distributors that also sell to the public.

Once you have found a market, do not be shy about asking the fishmonger about their daily specials. Knowledgeable fishmongers can also give you cooking suggestions so you get the best flavor out of your seafood. They may even have some good chowder recipes to share.


Most people expect chowder to be creamy and thick. This is a matter of balance. You do not want it so rich that people cannot eat a whole bowl, but you do not want it to be watery, either. Using cream as one of your ingredients can help create this velvety texture that most people expect, but use it with care. Too much cream can make the soup too heavy and rich.

Texture is really important in a good seafood chowder. Of course, you will get some texture from your seafood. Clams can be tender, yet chewy. Fish and oysters are soft; shrimp and lobster provide denser textures. Many recipes also call for cubes of potato. The potato not only helps thicken the chowder, it provides a different texture that helps make chowder what it is... a soup that you get to chew.

Texture can also be provided by other ingredients like celery, carrots, onions, and bacon. Each ingredient adds their flavor to the mixture and their texture to the overall feel of the chowder. Good chowder should be able to make up an entire meal, so you want to give it as much body as you can.

The Cooking Process

The cooking process is very important. Chowder really does not take too long to make compared to slow simmered stocks. Several ingredients are added to a broth and they simmer for a while to let the flavors blend together. Towards the end of cooking, the seafood is added. The cream is added near the end so it does not have a chance to burn. You can start with chicken broth or a good seafood stock made of fish remains or shrimp shells.

If you like a smoother chowder, you can use a stick blender to help blend everything together into one consistency. Most people do enjoy at least a few potatoes and clams left so they can feel different textures while eating.

Love fresh seafood? You can make a terrific seafood chowder anytime. It really is a simple thing to cook. Let the seafood flavor come through so you can enjoy it with some hot sourdough bread. It makes an excellent meal and requires less seafood per person than most recipes.

A Guide to the Freshest Seafood in Los Angeles - LosAngelesSeafood.net.

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