Easy New England Fish Chowder

This creamy New England Fish Chowder recipe can be made with cod or any firm white fish for a light, flavorful, and simple weeknight dinner that takes only 15 minutes of prep time.

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A bowl of creamy chowder with a spoon and a piece of bread.

I grew up in a family of commercial fishermen from Gloucester, Massachusetts, and this simple New England style fish chowder is an old fisherman's wife recipe. It can be adapted using any kind of firm, white fish, or even salmon as my mom often did.

This fish chowder recipe is easily one of my favorite comfort foods because it reminds me so much of my Mom. She always kept it really simple, and honestly, it's better that way. I’ve tried adding bacon, leeks, carrots, clam juice, and other liquids - like in my creamy, five star rated New England Clam Chowder recipe - but all of them took away from this recipe's perfect simplicity. 

If you’ve ever felt intimidated by fish chowder recipes, then this is the one for you! It only uses 7 ingredients and takes 15 minutes of hands-on time. It’s beginner friendly and uses basic ingredients that are easy to find. 

This fish chowder isn't thick and heavy like many cream-based New England varieties tend to be. It's light yet incredibly satisfying, and the flavor of the fish really shines through. If you like this recipe, make sure you add my Lobster Rolls and Lobster Corn Chowder to your menu – all New England style favorites!

Why This Recipe Works

  • Any sustainably caught firm white fish will work for this recipe, so use your favorite!
  • It’s naturally gluten-free. 
  • Simple and light, perfectly highlighting the delicate seafood flavor. 
  • Authentic New England fish chowder recipe, passed down from generations to my mom to me, and now you!
  • Beginner friendly with just 7 simple ingredients. 
  • Ready in only 30 minutes!

Ingredient Notes

Raw fish and other ingredients needed to make fish chowder with ingredients listed.
  • Potatoes - For this soup, you’ll want to use a waxy variety of potatoes like red-skinned potatoes or fingerling potatoes. Waxy potatoes will hold their form when boiled for a creamy bite. If you use a starchy potato, like russet or Yukon gold, the soup will be grainy as the potatoes break down. 
  • Firm white fish - I often use cod for this recipe, but you can use any firm, white-fleshed fish, preferably one that’s been sustainably caught. Halibut, grouper, pollock, haddock, and even salmon or sea bass are all excellent choices for this fish chowder. Avoid tuna, swordfish, and light flaky fish like flounder and snapper.
  • Heavy cream - The cream is what makes this soup “New England Style”. Heavy cream is ideal for the thickest and creamiest texture, but you can also use half and half. Low fat dairy and non-dairy alternatives will not work.

Step by Step Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Sauté the onion and celery with a pinch of salt for about 10 minutes or until translucent. 
  2. Add the potatoes to the pot, toss to coat, then add the water, salt and pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce it to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  1. Add the fish, cover, and simmer for another 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. Stir in the heavy cream and fresh parsley, and more salt and pepper as needed. 
  2. Serve immediately with lots of crusty bread for dipping.

Tips for Success

  • Season generously. Simple ingredients like water and potatoes requires more salt than you might think. I find 2 tablespoons of Diamond brand Kosher salt provides the perfect seasoning, but different types of salt will vary.
  • Avoid cooking the fish too long. Ten minutes is more than enough time for the fish to cook through. The longer it cooks, the more it will flake apart and melt into the soup.
  • If you want a thicker soup, mix together ¼ cup of flour with ¼ cup of water, add it to the soup and let it boil for 2-3 minutes before adding the fish. 
  • This soup is even better after it sits overnight. Be sure to make enough for leftovers!
Overhead close up shot of a bowl of New England fish chowder.

What to Serve with Creamy Fish Chowder

I like serving this soup with a few slices of crusty bread. Dinner rolls or oyster crackers will also pair really well with this creamy soup. 

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

One of the best things about this recipe is how good it tastes the next day! Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Because of the heavy cream, this recipe won’t freeze well. 

To reheat your fish chowder soup, pour it into a small pot and heat it on the stove over low. Avoid boiling, and remove it from the heat once it’s warmed through. 

FAQS About New England Fish Chowder

Side view of a bowl of fish soup with a green Dutch oven and loaf of bread in the background.
How do you thicken fish chowder?

While this recipe is creamy, it’s not exactly thick. For a thicker texture, make a simple slurry by mixing together ¼ cup of flour with ¼ cup of water, add it to the soup and let it boil for 2-3 minutes before adding the fish. You can also make a cornstarch slurry to keep it gluten free by mixing two tablespoons of cornstarch with four tablespoons of cold water.

Can you use milk instead of heavy cream to finish fish chowder?

You can, but you’ll want to use the slurry method mentioned above to thicken the soup, as milk won’t add the same thickness as heavy cream. 

Did you LOVE this recipe? Please leave a star ⭐️ rating and comment to let other readers know! I absolutely love hearing from you and do my best to answer all questions and comments. I love seeing your creations so please tag me on Instagram @ColeyCooks!

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Easy New England Fish Chowder

This creamy New England Fish Chowder recipe can be made with cod or any firm white fish for a light, flavorful, and simple weeknight dinner that takes only 15 minutes of prep time.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 5 servings
Calories: 382kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large yellow or sweet onion peeled and diced
  • 8 ribs celery diced
  • 1 lb waxy potatoes not russet, cut into large cubes
  • 6 cups water
  • salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste *see note
  • 1 pound sustainably caught firm white fish such as cod halibut or haddock, cut into large cubes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup minced flat leaf parsley loosely packed

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a large, heavy bottomed pot and sauté the onion and celery with a pinch of salt until translucent, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add in the potatoes, toss to coat, then add the water, salt and pepper. Bring the liquid up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  3. Add in the fish, cover, and simmer for another 10 minutes or util the fish is cooked through.
  4. Stir in the heavy cream and fresh parsley. Adjust the seasoning as needed.
  5. Serve immediately with lots of crusty bread for dipping.

Notes

  • Season generously. Simple ingredients like water and potatoes requires more salt than you might think. I find 2 tablespoons of Diamond brand Kosher salt provides the perfect seasoning, but different types of salt will vary.
  • Avoid cooking the fish too long. Ten minutes is more than enough time for the fish to cook through. The longer it cooks, the more it will flake apart and melt into the soup.
  • If you want a thicker soup, mix together ¼ cup of flour with ¼ cup of water, add it to the soup and let it boil for 2-3 minutes before adding the fish. 
  • This soup is even better after it sits overnight. Be sure to make enough for leftovers!

Nutrition

Calories: 382kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 111mg | Sodium: 157mg | Potassium: 930mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 982IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 81mg | Iron: 1mg

 

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45 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Great recipe! I altered it into a seafood chowder. I added oysters, clams and crab along with cod. I added the juice from the cans and used whole milk instead of water and heavy whipping cream as your recipe calls for... I used butter and flower to thicken the broth and followed the rest of your recipe. Wow, was it great. Thanks for your tip on the potatoes. I used red potatoes and they were just right! Thank you! My seafood chowder was a success. My wife had two bowels!