Here is a light and creamy recipe for New England Seafood Chowder you are going to want to save! It is thick and loaded with clams and tender chunks of fish. The light creamy broth, tender potatoes, vegetables and fresh herbs make it hearty without being gloppy or too heavy.

Seafood Chowder in a black pot

I originally shared this recipe for Seafood Chowder on January 6th, 2017. I have added step-by-step photos and a video plus more tips to help you make this recipe more easily! Enjoy! 

A Light and Creamy New England Seafood Chowder

Ask a New Englander, and they’ll tell you that Creamy New England Seafood Chowder should taste from the sea and be slightly sweet from the freshness of the seafood. Heavy and gloppy versions of chowder that rely on too much thickener or added fat to compensate for a lack of seafood is a pale comparison.

For authentic homemade chowder, there should be more clams, fish, celery and potatoes than creamy broth. We like ours with a few herbs stirred in and a scattering of crackers on top. And I won’t argue if sometimes a bit of bacon or corn can get added in. Speaking of which, don’t miss our Creamy Corn Chowder too!

This homemade version of New England Seafood Chowder is much lighter than that served at many local seafood restaurants or those roadside Cape Cod restaurants we stop at every summer. This chunky version has onions, celery and garlic and a splash of white wine to start. I added in fennel seeds which pair really well with seafood. I also flavored it with thyme and a pinch of nutmeg too.

I think you’ll find that this creamy New England Seafood Chowder is not too heavy at all. Not only does this have a lot of fresh vegetables and lean seafood but I kept the fat in check as well.

  • I used only 1 tablespoon of avocado oil to sauté the vegetables.
  • And instead of a lot of heavy cream, I added just ½ cup of half and half to the chowder to finish it, which adds only 2 ½ grams of fat per serving.

Key Ingredients For Creamy Seafood For Chowder

Fish

  • For the fish, I bought frozen Alaskan Cod, which is a sustainable choice according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
  • You could also use Sablefish or another mild white fish on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Best Choice List. You can check here to easily check from your phone at the seafood counter or check here.

Shucked Clams

For the clams I used pre-shucked clams.

  • I found both fresh and frozen hand-shucked sea clams that are from a Verified Sustainable Fishery. They came in a 1-pound container, and I used the juice they were in as part of the broth.
  • Sometimes you can ask at the seafood counter, and they will have some in a larger bulk container and weigh out what you need for you.
  • If you buy them frozen, thaw in the fridge overnight before using. Save the juice! It goes into the recipe.

Clam Juice and Broth

For the clam juice I used Bar Harbor brand clam juice which is much lower in sodium than other clam juice. If you can find it, it will make your chowder much less salty. If you can’t find Bar Harbor, skip the added salt, taste and adjust at the end.

Steps To Make This Recipe

sauteeing the veggies then adding broth and potatoes

Step 1: Sautee Vegetables and Aromatics

Heat oil in a large heavy-bottom Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, garlic, thyme, fennel, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cook, stirring often until the onion is translucent and starting to brown, 6 to 8 minutes.

Step 2: Deglaze and Simmer To Soften Potatoes

Add wine, and increase heat to high. Cook, stirring often until the liquid has almost completely evaporated, 3 to 4 minutes. Add clam juice, 2 cups chicken broth and potatoes, cover and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove lid. Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally until the potatoes are tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

thickening the chowder then adding seafood

Step 3: Thicken Chowder with Flour Slurry

Whisk the remaining ½ cup broth with flour (or cornstarch) until smooth. Stir slurry into the simmering soup, and continue stirring until the soup is thickened.

Step 4: Add Seafood and Gently Poach

Stir in clams, any juice from their container and cod or halibut. Let the mixture slowly come to a simmer, gently stirring occasionally. Let cook until the cod is opaque all the way through, 4 to 5 minutes total.

add cream at the end

Step 5: Add Cream and Serve

Stir in half and half and remove from the heat. Serve garnished with parsley or chives.

a black bowl of seafood chowder on a blue table with lots of oyster crackers on the table

More Soup Recipes To Try

Thanks so much for reading. If you make this Creamy New England Seafood Chowder recipe, please come back and let me know by leaving a star rating and review! 

Happy Cooking!

~Katie

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Healthy New England Seafood Chowder | Soup | Comfort Food | Winter | Kid Friendly | Potatoes | Seafood | Clams | Healthy Seasonal Recipes | Katie Webster

Light & Creamy New England Seafood Chowder


  • Author: Katie Webster
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 5 servings 1x

Description

This creamy New England Seafood Chowder is not too heavy, filled with fresh vegetables and lean seafood and is ready in 45 minutes. I added just ½ cup of half and half to finish it, which adds only 2 ½ grams of fat per serving making it a delicious and healthy lunch or dinner!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil or organic canola oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • ¾ teaspoon dry thyme or 1 ½ teaspoon chopped fresh
  • ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper, preferably white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • pinch nutmeg
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 8-ounce lower sodium bottles clam juice, such as Bar Harbor
  • 2 ½ cups reduced sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 4 medium red potatoes, peeled if desired, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour or 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 pound raw shucked clams * ingredient note
  • 8 ounces Alaskan cod or Sablefish, cut into chunks
  • ½ cup half-and-half
  • chopped parsley or chives for garnish

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large heavy-bottom Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, garlic, thyme, fennel, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cook, stirring often until the onion is translucent and starting to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add wine, and increase heat to high. Cook, stirring often until the liquid has almost completely evaporated, 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Add clam juice, 2 cups chicken broth and potatoes, cover and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove lid. Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally until the potatoes are tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Whisk the remaining ½ cup broth with flour (or cornstarch) until smooth. Stir slurry into the simmering soup, and continue stirring until the soup is thickened.
  4. Stir in clams, any juice from their container and cod or halibut. Let the mixture slowly come to a simmer, gently stirring occasionally. Let cook until the cod is opaque all the way through, 4 to 5 minutes total.
  5. Stir in half and half and remove from the heat. Serve garnished with parsley or chives.

Notes

Raw Shucked Clams, also sometimes called raw chopped sea clams or fresh minced clams are available frozen or fresh at the seafood counter at large supermarkets and fish markets. Look for natural hand-shucked clams, especially without preservatives or chemicals. I used Seawatch International.

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 2 cups
  • Calories: 349
  • Sugar: 5 g
  • Sodium: 839 mg
  • Fat: 7 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 41 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Protein: 25 g

Keywords: Seafood Chowder,Clam Chowder,New England Chowder,Creamy Seafood Chowder,Healthy Fish Chowder