Light & Creamy New England Seafood Chowder
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.
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!
Table of contents
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 and this Red Clam Chowder.
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
- 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.
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
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.
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.
Step 5: Add Cream and Serve
Stir in half and half and remove from the heat. Serve garnished with parsley or chives.
More Soup Recipes To Try
- Vegan Vegetable Soup, this is possibly the most delicious vegetable soup on the planet. If you like this Minestrone, you have to make this veggie soup too!
- Paleo Chicken and Vegetable Soup, if you eat poultry, you’ll want to save this one as well. It’s full of hearty veggies and has so much flavor!
- Chicken and Quinoa Soup plus what to do with mustard greens this is a “cures what ails ya” kind of recipe. It is super healthy (with turmeric too! Save it for when you have a cold! It will be your lifeline.)
- Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup a great weeknight soup dinner the whole family will love.
- My Vegan Minestrone Soup is one of my most popular recipes. You’ll definitely want to try it!
- The newest kid on the block is my Corn Chowder recipe, and it’s already getting rave reviews!
- This Cheddar Potato Soup is creamy and rich tasting and is like an amped up version of potato leek soup.
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!
Light & Creamy New England Seafood Chowder
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 5 servings 1x
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!
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Stir in half and half and remove from the heat. Serve garnished with parsley or chives.
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
- 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
Very very good. I did not scimp on the fat-whole fat ingredients used. Totally creamy and delicious. I make this at least once a month. Also used 1 lb. of shrimp and scallops and added chopped imitation king crab. Yummy
I’m glad you enjoyed it! Thank you!
No true New Englander would EVER use chicken stock/broth for clam chowder. Get rid of that and replace it with seafood stock or more clam juice.
Have you tried it?
Can I freeze this recipe? If so, how long would it keep in the freezer?
Hi Jane, You can, but the creamy milky texture and fish won’t be quite as good. After thawing it in the fridge, rewarm it gently until it comes back together. Don’t boil it.
This recipe is ultra easy, and the chowder is restaurant quality. Many thanks to you.
I am so glad you liked them.
Made as written..delish! Will try some bacon next time.
Wow, this was amazing. I made it exactly as written (although I maybe skimped a little on the half and half), and it was just outstanding. Thank you!
I havn’t made it yet, but how would this go with light coconut milk or cream? Instead of the half and half.
Hey Robyn, I would say that it would change the flavor pretty dramatically. For a dairy free alternative, I would recommend making cashew cream instead. Puree a half cup of raw cashews with a cup of water until it is completely smooth (for like a minute!) Then stir that in.