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Italian Fish Chowder

Enjoy a taste of coastal New England with this recipe for Italian Fish Chowder.

Years ago, my husband Jack lived in Gloucester, Massachusetts – a coastal city located north of Boston and famous for its thriving fishing industry, as well as a popular summer destination for tourists.  During that time, Jack often ate at a restaurant called Halibut Point Restaurant & Bar, named after its proximity to Halibut Point State Park – a granite quarry with breathtaking views that overlook the Atlantic Ocean.

Halibut Point, the restaurant, was a casual, local hangout and the perfect place to enjoy some great outdoor dining with friends.  On the menu was the most delicious Italian Fish Chowder that Jack absolutely fell in love with – so much so that his usual meal was a cup of this fantastic chowder along with fried calamari and hot peppers.

Jack, to this day, still dreams about that Italian fish chowder (Gloucester is about a two hour drive from where we live now, so unfortunately, we don’t get up there very often!) and he recently set out to recreate it at home.  It’s a super delicious chowder with a spicy (but not too spicy) tomato base flavored with onions, peppers and celery plus tender chunks of halibut (or cod) and potatoes.

Enjoy a taste of coastal New England with this recipe for Italian Fish Chowder.

Served with some warm, crusty bread, this Italian fish chowder is a taste of coastal New England in a bowl!  I can totally understand why Jack loves it so much – and we’re sure you will love it too!

Italian Fish Chowder
 
Serves: 4-6 servings
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
The restaurant that inspired this recipe served grated Parmesan cheese at the table, but Jack always passed on it because he likes the clean taste of the fish and tomato. You may however put some freshly grated Parmesan on your chowder if you prefer. Also this chowder is traditionally made without potatoes. If you omit the potatoes, cook the chowder for about ten minutes instead of twenty, then add two full pounds of fish instead of the pound and a quarter.
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup finely diced salt pork (rinse all visible salt before dicing)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced green bell pepper
  • ⅓ cup diced celery
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • Big pinch red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dry oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, minced
  • ¾ pound peeled, diced new red potatoes
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 4 cups strong fish stock or 4 cups bottle clam juice with one teaspoon clam base or any other strong stock such as lobster or shrimp
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomato (we like Cento)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 ¼ pounds fresh cod or halibut cut into one inch chunks.
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place salt pork and olive oil in a medium to large heavy bottomed pot. Cook over medium high heat until the salt pork is rendered and slightly brown.
  2. Add onions, peppers and celery and sauté three to five minutes or until celery is tender. Add garlic and sauté one more minute.
  3. Add red pepper, thyme, oregano, parsley and diced potatoes. Sauté for 2 minutes.
  4. Add wine and cook until the wine has reduced by half.
  5. Add fish stock, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper and stir.
  6. Reduce to medium and cook about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  7. Taste and adjust seasoning then add the fish. Gently stir and cook over medium heat for about two to three minutes or until fish is cooked through. Do not stir too much or you will break apart the fish.

You may also like:

New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder

Italian Tomato Sauce

Italian_Tomato_Sauce - A Family Feast

 Salmon and Parsnip Chowder

Salmon and Parsnip Chowder - A Family Feast

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  1. Martha, I love your recipes, which I have tried several. You and your husband are a great inspiration. Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipes and the stories that go along with them!

    • Thank you so much Linda! Comments like yours mean so much to us!! You’ve made our day and we are so glad you are enjoying our recipes! Thank you for writing and for visiting our site! Martha

  2. Looks lovely Martha!!!
    Wanted to let you know I was lucky enough to pick up these soup bowls and on a sale at Crate & Barrel too. Remember I admired them so much with your baked beans (and the beans as well LOL).
    Thanks for letting me know the source you got them from!!

    Judy <3
    Judy Hannemann recently posted…Popsicle Fridays All Summer LongMy Profile

    • Thanks Judy! I definitely remember – and am glad you were able to find the bowls for your collection! (Now I’m thinking I need to take a trip to C&B myself and see if there is anything new we could use…) 😉 Have a great day!
      Martha

  3. I’m so glad you were able to recreate it. I can’t wait to try it for myself!
    Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious recently posted…Breakfast TaquitosMy Profile

  4. This is exactly the recipe I was seeking! I lived on Cape Ann for a couple of years, over 20 years ago, and the fish chowder at Halibut Point was my favorite then. Many thanks for developing this recipe and posting it. Best wishes, Jeanne

    • Hi Jeanne! What a small world! I hope Jack’s recipe is as good as the one you remember having at Halibut Point! Who knows – you may have met Jack all those years ago! Thanks for visiting our site!
      Martha

  5. I made this recipe last night – yes, on a Sunday night at the end of June. I could eat soup any time of the year. This was remarkable! Very easy to make and wow’d my husband and me. I have a recipe for a spicy Rhode Island clam chowder that is rather similar. I made this with fresh cod from a small market near me – very unusual in the Midwest.
    Thank you SO much!

    • Thank you Gail! We’re so glad you enjoyed it! (We could eat soup any time of the year too…!) Have a great 4th holiday! Martha

  6. Delicious. I like the texture of diced tomatoes, so I used that; and added more herbs, garlic, and yummy olive oil. Served with fried polenta/kale wedges and chianti. Bon appetito!

  7. I love your website! Have bookmarked many recipes I want to try. I also love the white ribbed bowls you’ve photographed some of your lovely soups in, like the Italian Fish Chowder above. Would you mind if I asked where you bought those bowls? Thank you so much. Harry

    • Thanks Harry! Those bowls were from Crate & Barrel from a few years ago and I know, unfortunately, that they don’t carry them anymore. (I would buy a few more myself if they did!) Hope you enjoy the recipes!

      • Well shucks! Thank you for your very fast response, Martha. I’ll have to find something else as worthy of your recipes. Your Portuguese Kale Soup and Tuscan White Bean Soup are both on my radar right now. Can’t wait to try them! And I do hope you are safe, warm and dry up there in Boston. Mother Nature needs to leave Boston alone!

  8. I have tried your “Italian Fish Chowder” OMG the best fish chowder I have ever had. Thank you! I live on Cape Cod right near the East end of the Cape Cod Canal. My Husband dives for lobster (in the summer) I can’t wait to try this with Lobster, Shrimp, Scallops and Clams. I’m going to call it “Martha’s Italian Seafood Chowdar”. Your recipes are so awesome! Thank you both for sharing.

    • Thank you so much Charlene! We’re in Plymouth – not too far from you at all and my in-laws live right near the canal but close to the West end! (Small world!) We’re glad you enjoyed the recipe as much as we do and I’m sure it will be fantastic with freshly-caught lobster! Thanks for writing to us!

  9. I am so excited to try this! I also love that chowder at Halibut Point and have it every time I go there and I have been going since it opened!! Thanks for coming up with this!!

  10. Ate there tonight! Really wanted to love the soup and the restaurant. Prices were outrageous for the portion size -it was the 4th Gloucester restaurant in as many nights. Like my veggies cooked more in the soup so I am excited to try this. Thanks for the post!