Bex’s Fish Chowdah

I made a fish chowder (properly pronounced “chow-dah” here in New England), the other day. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing. I had taken out a zip-lock bag of frozen fish from the freezer earlier and it hadn’t quite thawed out by mid-afternoon. When Paul catches fish in his lobster traps (they accidentally swim in there looking for food and get stuck) he brings the legal sized ones home and fillets them up and puts the fillets in a zip-lock bag. He doesn’t label them and there have been times when I’ve pulled out a bag thinking it was chicken only to find we were having fish for supper rather than chicken!

Anyway, the other day I had this frozen block of fish. It wasn’t thawing quickly enough so the thought occured to me to cut it up in chunks and make a stew, or chowdah, out of it. I have never made a fish chowdah, honest to gawd, in all my years on this planet.

I went online and read through some recipes for “easy fish chowder” and with a basic understanding of how things should go, I set about making up my own recipe. I hope I remember it, so here goes:


Bex’s Fish Chowder

(serves 4)


– Fish cut into chunks (white fish, I used codfish)

– 4 cups diced peeled potatoes (you could leave the skins on but I like potatoes in chowder to be white)

– 1 cup chopped onion (2 small onions, don’t chop too small)

– 6-8 strips of bacon, diced

– 1/2 green pepper diced

– 1/2 red pepper diced

– 2 stalks celery, cut up

– 1 cup white wine (all I have is cooking wine here and it worked fine)

– 2 cups no- or low-sodium chicken broth

– 2 cups milk (I used 1% milk)

– Olive oil

– Fox Point Seasoning (1-2 tsp) (optional)

– Old Bay Seasoning (1-2 tsp) (optional)

(Note: My new favorite seasoning is Fox Point from Penzey’s Spices)


(Note: I used this pan below, it’s my braising pressure cooker but I used a plain glass cover instead of the pressure cooker lid so it’s the perfect size for this chowder)


In a pan or Dutch oven, cook up the diced bacon til the fat is rendered and the meat part is crispy. Add the onions to the pan and saute them until soft. Add about a cup of the chicken stock and the chunks of white fish. Let bubble gently for about 7-8 minutes until the fish is just barely cooked. With a slotted spoon, remove onions, fish and bacon to a dish for now.

Leave stock in the pan. Add the white wine now.

In the same pan, add a little olive oil, the rest of the chicken stock, the green and red peppers, the celery, the potatoes, and simmer covered for about 10 minutes til the potatoes are just tender.

Add back the fish, onions, and bacon. Bring up to a boil and then add the 2 cups of milk (you could use cream here but why? the 1% milk was just fine).

Add any seasonings you wish. I used Fox Point seasoning and a little Old Colony seasoning here.

Once the whole thing has been bubbling gently for a few minutes, it is ready to serve.

You can salt and pepper as you like but you don’t need much salt as the bacon is salty and your chicken stock might have some salt in it.

I made a pan of cornbread to go with this and one bowlful with the cornbread was more than enough for dinner, even for my hard-working lobsterman husband. It was the best fish chowder I think I’ve ever had, too. Amazing, on my first try at it!

You can use salt-pork, which most recipes call for, but I don’t have any of that on hand as a rule and Paul had a hard time finding it the last time I asked him to get me some, so the bacon did the same thing, it is pork and is salty! I think I liked it better, in fact.

Cheers for Chowdah,


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12 Responses to Bex’s Fish Chowdah

  1. ~ Sil in Corea says:

    I’m tucking a link to your chowdah in my recipe file. It sounds really good, and I can get most of the ingredients here. I’ll see if my kids can send me the seasonings that you used.

    In regard to your comment, I had a wonderful vacation and will put up more pictures when I figure out how to get them out of the flashfile and into my computer…LOL! My email is sillama1 at yahoo dot com.

    Hugs from Asia, ~ Sil in Corea


  2. mz. em says:

    Wow, you are such a good cook. Your chowdah sound delicious.


  3. t.s. says:

    That chowdah sounds mighty good!


  4. Bex says:

    Funny you mention those azaleas, TT. The ones that are blooming in this photo are no longer there. That bush didn’t make it after a hard winter, but the other one, that is under the far window, is going great guns and we have to keep cutting it back just so I can see out of the living room window to the street. It’s the same color as the one in the photo which I love.


  5. TopsyTurvy says:

    Bex, love the pic of your window with the azaleas! DH loves azaleas. I hope we’ll be able to get him some for the backyard, maybe next year…


  6. Bex says:

    I know what you mean about soups being for the cooler weather, but when I decided to go for this idea, I only had 2 pieces of fish to deal with and it didn’t seem like I was really making a big batch of soup/chowder, and with the smaller pan it was just a one-night deal that turned into a two-night deal. It took so little time to make that the kitchen didn’t even get hot! I really have to remember this recipe myself or print it out because I can’t tell you how gooooooood it was!

    Neva, let me know how yours turns out!


  7. TopsyTurvy says:

    I just can’t get into things like soups until it starts getting more Fall-like around here.


  8. Neva Williams says:

    This looks wonderful, Bex! I love a good chowder. I’m going to make this in the next few days. Thanks. 🙂


  9. Nina says:

    Looks amazingly delicious! Something to put away for the soup days of fall and winter!


  10. Bex says:

    Most of the chowder you get these days is so thick a spoon will stand up in it. Ours was more thinned out with the 1% milk and no cream and no thickeners whatsoever. I loved it. Actually, the starch from the potatoes cooking in it gave it some thickness but not too much.

    Anna – I wish I had a dish for you! This is really easy to make and it only takes about a half hour once you have all the ingredients assembled in one place. Try it! We had it two nights in a row and I want to make it again!

    And, it goes without saying that several cooked lobster tails added to this chowder would take it to a completely new level of YUM!


  11. Rhubarb says:

    Almost exactly the recipe my mother used to make. You’ve reminded me of how delicious it was. Have to run right out and get some fish for chowdah! I really like the substitutions you made–she used salt pork (always on hand) and whole milk from the neighbor’s cow. The lower-fat option is better, I think, for coronary arteries and just as delicious.


  12. Anna says:

    Mmm – sounds delicious xx


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