Real Recipes From Real Home Cooks ®

soup essentials: versatile chowder base

Recipe by
Andy Anderson !
Wichita, KS

Seafood chowder is not just about the seafood; it is about that great base of yummy veggies, and mouthwatering broth. Just thinking about it makes me hungry. The inspiration for this recipe came from a few diving trips in the Caribbean, and then adding some midwestern touches of my own. As to the seafood, you can pick-and-choose what you want or leave it out and go veggie. In addition, you can make a nice big batch and freeze it for later. FYI: This base is amazing for a meatball stew, or maybe even smoked sausage. So, you ready… Let’s get into the kitchen.

yield serving(s)
prep time 15 Min
cook time 1 Hr 30 Min
method Stove Top

Ingredients For soup essentials: versatile chowder base

  • 3 - 4 slice
    slab bacon, diced
  • 1 md
    yellow onion diced
  • 2 stalk
    celery diced
  • 2 md
    carrots diced
  • 1/2 md
    fennel bulb diced
  • 1 md
    yellow bell pepper diced
  • 1 md
    jalapeno pepper, diced
  • 1 lg
    lime, just the zest
  • 3 clove
    garlic minced
  • 1 Tbsp
    dried parsley flakes
  • 1 Tbsp
    dried thyme
  • 2 lg
    bay leaves
  • 1 tsp
    salt, kosher variety, fine grind
  • 1/4 tsp
    ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp
    white pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/4 tsp
    dried sage
  • 1/4 tsp
    ginger root powder
  • 1/4 tsp
    red pepper flakes
  • 14.4 oz
    diced tomatoes, 1 can, with juice, fire roasted if you have them
  • 3 c
    chicken stock, not broth
  • 1 c
    clam juice
  • 1 c
    beer, light variety
  • 2 lg
    fresh limes, just the juice, about 5 – 6 tablespoons
  • 1 lb
    golden potatoes, peeled and chopped into 3/4 inch (2cm) pieces
  • 1 lb
    scallops, clams, maybe some shrimp, or firm white fish; maybe meatballs, smoked sausage… or all of the above
  • 1/4 c
    white wine
  • hot sauce to taste

How To Make soup essentials: versatile chowder base

  • 1
  • 2
    You will need a good heavy-bottom pot with a lid to make this recipe, like a Dutch oven.
  • 3
    Can This Soup Be Frozen? Absolutely, freeze away; however, you want to leave two things out: The seafood, and diced potatoes. Then, go ahead and freeze into batches (I like to do serving sizes). Then, when you are ready, defrost, warm up, follow the steps from 26 to the finish, and Bob’s Your Uncle.
  • 4
    Seafood? I designed this base primarily for seafood; however, as it evolved, I discovered that it was awesome all by itself, as a vegetable chowder, and when I added my Aunt Josephine’s Italian meatballs, it just blew my tastebuds away. This is truly a versatile chowder/soup base. I served this the other day outdoors for a little Do I had arranged. The base was in a big pot with a ladle, and next to it were small pots on warmers one with shrimp, one with scallops, and one with meatballs. Folks picked up a bowl and decided whether to go veggie, or add some seafood, meatballs, or both. I had a bowl of grated parmesan and the reserved diced bacon at the end of the line for a garnish; along with crusty bread, oyster crackers, and a bowl of balsamic-tossed salad.
  • 5
    The Bacon I love the flavor that the bacon imparts to this recipe; especially, if you use the hickory-smoked variety. However, if you do not want to use it, then sub about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and two tablespoons of sweet butter, unsalted.
  • 6
    The Limes This recipe calls for the juice of two large limes, plus the zest of one lime. I find it a whole lot easier to zest a lime before squeezing it. That may sound obvious; however, I have made that mistake more than once.
  • 7
    Gather your ingredients (mise en place).
  • 8
  • 9
    Chop up the bacon and add to a pot over medium heat.
  • 10
    Allow the bacon to slowly cook, render its fat, and get crispy, about 8 – 10 minutes.
  • 11
    Remove, drain on paper towels, and reserve.
  • 12
    If you do not have a lot of rendered bacon fat in the pan, you may need to add a bit of olive oil or butter. You want about 3 tablespoons of fat, total.
  • 13
  • 14
    Prep all your veggies. Chop, chop, chop.
  • 15
    Add all the veggies, except the minced garlic, to the pot with the fat.
  • 16
    Reduce heat to medium low, and allow the veggies to slowly cook, until the onions are soft and translucent. At no time should the veggies be allowed to brown. At low heat this process should take 30 – 40 minutes. Stir on a regular basis.
  • 17
    Increase heat to medium, add the garlic, and stir for about 60 seconds.
  • 18
  • 19
    Add all the dry ingredients.
  • 20
    Stir to combine for about 1 – 2 minutes.
  • 21
  • 22
    Add all the wet ingredients and bring the base up to a simmer.
  • 23
    Place the lid on, slightly askew to allow some steam to escape, and lightly simmer, for 25 – 30 minutes.
  • 24
    At this point you can stop the process and freeze it in serving size proportions. If properly stored, it should last 2 – 3 months.
  • 25
    If you are ready to eat this chowder, then move on to the next step.
  • 26
  • 27
    Add the taters and give them a head start on the seafood, by simmering for about 5 – 8 minutes.
  • 28
    Then, add the seafood, wine, a dash or two of hot sauce, then simmer for an additional 5 – 8 minutes.
  • 29
    The seafood should be cooked thru, and the taters nice and fork tender.
  • 30
  • So yummy
    Top with some grated parmesan, or use a softer cheese, like a provolone, and stick it under the broiler for a few minutes. Sprinkle with some of the reserved bacon, then serve while nice and hot. Enjoy.
  • Stud Muffin
    Keep the faith, and keep cooking.