The Real Deal New England Fish Chowder

"I have been eating and making this my entire life! I also use the same basic recipe to do my clam and corn chowders. Chowder must be a milk based soup and the originals were fish and clam only. Corn and some wacky ones appeared later. I thicken my chowders and my mother doesn't. It is personal preference, though the earliest chowders were thickened using ground Ship's Biscuit and then Common Crackers. Chowder means Maine to me, where I was born and raised. I use evaporated milk for the creaminess without the cream. Many use milk and some use half-and-half. Chowder should be simple and flavorful from the fish or clams, potatoes and onions and never "mucked up." Okay, so I am a chowder purist! :) I have also given my own clam and corn chowder variations. Small salt pork cubes crackly fried and drained on a paper towel used to be added last to chowder though many people dropped this when cholesterol became bad news. My mother stopped using the fried salt pork which I never could keep my hands out of before it went into the chowder. I have gotten used to it this way and even in many/most chowder houses around New England, you will see this practice has ceased."
The Real Deal New England Fish Chowder created by Chef Booshman
Ready In:
2hrs 10mins




  • Your pot may only take 2 cans of the evaporated milk. Zaar didn't like 2-3 cans. :). Those who hate or are skeptical about evaporated milk have all loved my chowders.
  • Place onions and potatoes with thyme and salt and pepper into a large pot and cover with water. If you aren't going to thicken, add butter now.
  • Bring to the boil and cook until potatoes begin to cook.
  • Using the butter and flour make a roux in a small frying pan by melting the butter, stirring in the flour, whisking and cook 1 minute.
  • Continue to cook at a simmer until potatoes are just underdone.
  • Add the roux and simmer on medium high heat, stirring until quite thick. Add fish and lower heat to a gentle simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add evaporated milk.
  • Lower heat and allow to cook until potatoes are just tender.
  • Raise heat to near the boil and turn the heat off. Allow to stand covered most of the day or overnight. Adjust seasoning.
  • It can be eaten at this point though I prefer to leave on lowest heat and stir occasionally for an hour then allow to stand all afternoon; overnight is best. I always think most chowders, soups, stews and sauces are best made a day in advance.
  • This is at it's very best made a day ahead and slowly reheated. This will not freeze. I prefer cod for the flavor and is most commonly used. There appears to be many steps though all simple. I can throw this together nearly as quick as I can open a can.
  • Serve with crackers and sour pickles if you want to go "all New England!".
  • If I am doing clam chowder I use 1 pint of chopped fresh clams or 3-4 small cans of minced clams; using the iquid as part of the water with both fresh and canned clams.
  • For corn chowder I use 2 cans of cream style corn and 1 can of whole kernel corn plus 1 small jar of baby food corn. It really ups the corn flavor.

Join The Conversation

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  1. Francisbd
    Loved this chowder but wanted to lower fat but keep flavor. I saut?ed the onions in olive oil, covered the 4 potatoes with 1can low salt chicken stock 1cup water. Made roux with 1/2 stick butter & 1/4 cup flour. Used 3 cups of Hood Simply Smart 1% milk which has the texture and taste of whole milk. Added 3 sliced scallions and 2Tbls fresh parsley when adding milk. Recipe now has perfect thickness and chowder texture with intense flavors.
  2. choco chip
    Absolutely delicious! We ate it the day I made it and it turned out great. Will definitely make again.
  3. Mainewmn
    I made few changes to this chowder. Here they are: changed pepper to whole peppercorns, changed half water to good quality chicken stock, added bay leaf, and changed dried thyme to fresh.. Also added few carrots and celery stalk, and changed milk to light cream.. Results were good old fashion chowder.
  4. Chef Villster
    I couldn't get past using evaporated milk and felt there was just too much ground dried thyme. I may use fresh thyme instead.
  5. martywmaine
    Yuck. I can tell by the picture the chowder has been thickened. In downeast Maine, fish chowder is not thickened and it is much better that way. Chowder is not supposed to be gooey.



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