Irish Seafood Chowder

published Jan 10, 2023
Irish Seafood Chowder Recipe

A thin, milky broth barely holds together a mountain of smoked and fresh fish, tender potatoes and briny shellfish.

Serves4 to 6

Prep30 minutes

Cook35 minutes to 40 minutes

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Seafood chowder in a bowl, some in spoon. Crust of bread with butter next to it
Credit: Photo: Andrew Bui; Food Styling: Rebecca Jurkevich

This summer my partner and I spent over two weeks traveling around Ireland, visiting his family in the North, hiking in some of the most beautiful places eyes have seen, and eating all of the amazing food Ireland has to offer. And number one on this culinary journey was Irish seafood chowder. 

When Americans think of a seafood chowder, we most likely think of the thick and creamy New England clam chowder, laden with heavy cream and shellfish. Irish seafood chowder could not be more opposite. It has a thinner, milkier broth that just barely holds together the mountain of smoked and fresh fish, tender potatoes, and briny shellfish. Although there are a few different swaps and versions of this we ate along our travels, I was obsessed with the additions of smoked fish and sweet leeks. It was unlike any seafood soup I’d had before! 

Credit: Photo: Andrew Bui; Food Styling: Rebecca Jurkevich

Tips for Making Irish Seafood Chowder

  • Use the highest-quality fish stock, fish, and shellfish you can find. It seems so obvious, but because there are so few ingredients in this dish, the quality of each item really has to be up there. I recommend finding a fishmonger you trust and getting everything from them. 
  • Serve this with Irish brown bread and softened Irish butter. It will make the experience all the more realistic and I know it will make you fall in love with this dish just like I did. Bain taitneamh as do bhéile (enjoy your meal)! 

Irish Seafood Chowder Recipe

A thin, milky broth barely holds together a mountain of smoked and fresh fish, tender potatoes and briny shellfish.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 35 minutes to 40 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1 1/2 pounds

    littleneck clams (12 to 18)

  • 1

    small leek (8 ounces)

  • 3 medium stalk

    celery (about 7 ounces)

  • 1 pound

    Yukon Gold potatoes (3 small or 2 medium)

  • 3 tablespoons

    unsalted butter, preferably Irish butter such as Kerrygold

  • 8 ounces

    hot smoked fish, such as haddock or trout

  • 1/2 cup

    dry white wine

  • 1 (32-ounce) carton

    or 2 (15-ounce) cans fish stock (about 4 cups), divided

  • 1 pound

    skinless mild white fish fillets, such as cod

  • 3/4 cup

    half-and-half

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Irish brown or soda bread and softened butter, for serving

Instructions

  1. Place 2 teaspoons kosher salt in a large bowl and add enough cold water to fill the bowl about 3/4 full. Whisk until the salt is dissolved. Add 1 1/2 pounds littleneck clams and let soak for 20 minutes to purge the clams of any sand or grit.

  2. Meanwhile, dice the light green white parts of 1 small leek (about 3/4 cup). Dice 3 medium celery stalks (about 1 1/2 cups). Peel and dice 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes (about 2 cups).

  3. Melt 3 tablespoons unsalted In a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the leeks, celery, and a pinch of kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and turn golden brown around the edges, 8 to 12 minutes. Meanwhile, drain the clams and scrub well. Remove any bones or skin from 8 ounces smoked fish if needed and break into bite-sized pieces with your hands.

  4. Add 1/2 cup dry white wine to the pot and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon. Cook for 1 minute for some of the wine to evaporate. Add 1/2 cup of the fish stock and bring to a simmer.

  5. Add the clams. Cover and cook until the clams are fully opened, 3 to 6 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the clams to a large bowl, making sure to drain any liquid in the clams back into the Dutch oven. Discard any clams that do not open after 6 minutes.

  6. Add the remaining 3 1/2 cups fish stock, potatoes, and smoked fish to the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, gently stirring occasionally and being careful not to break the smoked fish up, until the potatoes are tender but still lightly toothsome, 10 to 12 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the clam meat from the shells and discard the shells. Cut 1 pound white fish into 1-inch pieces.

  7. Add the fish to the pot and bring back to a gentle simmer. Cook until the fish turns opaque and flakes easily with a fork, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Add the clams and 3/4 cup half-and-half. Stir to combine and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more to let the flavors meld (do not let the chowder come to a boil).

  8. Remove the pot from the heat. Taste and season with kosher salt and black pepper as needed. Ladle into bowls and serve with Irish brown or soda bread and softened butter.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.