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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!

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Italian Fish Chowder

  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings


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.


  • 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
  • 1/3 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)


  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.

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  • Camilla Shivarg wrote:

    i love this Italian fish chowder , i have it written down with a few of my own changes , as i dont always have the right ingredients but i use it often , its very good if your trying to lose weight and fool the family too , i just out in less potatoes and add so add some fennel , great way to use up the stock in my freezer , thank you from London !

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re very welcome Camilla!

  • Jody wrote:

    I am allergic to shellfish. What can I use that is strong in flavor other than clam ,shrimp or lobsters juice

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Jody – We’d suggest a vegetable broth (homemade would be the most flavorful) rather than using a chicken, beef or ham stock which would introduce a meat flavor to the soup. We have a homemade broth recipe here:

  • James wrote:

    Hi! So could you mix chicken stock with clam juice ? Or you require 4 cups worth of it? I don’t have ‘fish stock’
    Looking forward to trying

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi James – I’d suggest starting with 5+ cups of bottled clam juice and simmering it down to 4 cups so the flavors are intensified. You can use chicken stock in a pinch, but the finished chowder won’t have the same seafood flavor as if you used clam, fish, lobster, or other seafood stock.

  • Siobhan wrote:

    Hi Martha, I love this red fish chowder, and also love the idea of a family feast. I agree, good food served up and shared with friends and family go great together and something I really look forward to.
    Waving at you from across the Atlantic in County Donegal Ireland.

    • Martha wrote:

      Waving back Siobhan! 🙂 So glad you enjoyed the chowder!

  • Donna carrubba wrote:

    Excellent recipe….. Loved it, Family loved it………….

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Donna – so glad the recipe was a hit!

  • MDW wrote:

    How far ahead can I make this? Can clams be added or used in place of cod/halibut?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi – If you need to make this ahead of time, I’d suggest preparing the recipe only up to the point before you add the seafood. Then the day of serving, reheat the broth and add the fish to cook through. (Also, keep the seafood in a bowl on ice in the refrigerator to keep it extra cold and fresh.). You can certainly adapt this by adding additional or different seafood like clams. Enjoy!

      • MDW wrote:

        Thank you . One more question…is there anything that can be substituted for the salt pork, or can it be eliminated altogether?

        • Martha wrote:

          It can be left out – it does add some flavor but feel free to adjust the seasonings as you’d like.

  • Brian wrote:

    2 years and at least 30 batches of this recipe (usually doubled) I think I can give this a thumbs up. I live in Gloucester and frequent Halibut Point. I consider myself a hack in the kitchen but make up for it with an unlimited supply of fresh fish. Your recipe is spot on! I make my stock with haddock or cusk and the stew the same. Cusk makes the best stews in my opinion. Give it a try if you haven’t all ready. Thank you for figuring out this recipe. It’s always been a well guarded secret and I never came close on my own……

    • Martha wrote:

      So glad you enjoyed our recipe Brian! Jack and I were both saying that we’ll need to try using cusk the next time we make this chowder – thanks for the suggestion! Have a great rest of the weekend and thank you for taking the time to write to us! Martha

  • R J wrote:

    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!

    • Martha wrote:

      Hope you enjoy our version of the recipe RJ!

      • Tom wrote:

        I used it live in the neighboring town of Manchester by the Sea in the ’80’s. My fater and I used to go to Halibut Point almost every Saturday and would have a bowl of the Italian Fish Chowder and chat with the o what Dennis. I’ve tried to recreate the recipe but have never hit it right. I happened to see your soup picture while searching for a recipe, which looks just like Halibut soup. There was no salt pork or potatoes though. I’m trying out your recipe and will write back to compare with the real deal. Thanks for posting.

        • Martha wrote:

          Hope you love the recipe Tom! (Please let us know what you think!)

  • Heidi K Sawyer wrote:

    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!!

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re very welcome Heidi! We hope you enjoy it as much as the original!

      • Heidi K Sawyer wrote:

        I loved it and have shared it with friends!! This is now in our regular rotation! I do skip the potatoes and salt pork and I use haddock. And it still tastes as good as the original!

        • Martha wrote:

          So glad you enjoyed the recipe Heidi!

  • Charlene wrote:

    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.

    • Martha wrote:

      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!

  • Harry James Krebs wrote:

    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

    • Martha wrote:

      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!

      • Harry James Krebs wrote:

        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!

        • Martha wrote:

          Thank you!

  • Kweltchek wrote:

    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!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you!!

  • Gail wrote:

    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!

    • Martha wrote:

      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

  • Jeanne wrote:

    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

    • Martha wrote:

      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!

  • Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious wrote:

    I’m so glad you were able to recreate it. I can’t wait to try it for myself!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Chung-Ah!

  • Judy Hannemann wrote:

    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

    • Martha wrote:

      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!

  • Linda wrote:

    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!

    • Martha wrote:

      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

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