North Perth Seafood Chowder

September 9, 2012 · 8 comments

Chowder seems to be one of those dishes that causes fisticuffs between one town and another. It is, perhaps, the vanilla slice of New England and Atlantic Canada, with each chowder-maker laying claim to the definitive recipe. The word itself apparently has roots in the Latin word from which we get the word cauldron, and also in the old English word jowter – a fish peddler. I’m particularly fond of jowter, as I can imagine a portly chap merrily tending his chowder, jowls gently swaying to match the pace of his stirs.

There are many variants of the chowder – be they thickened with broken up crackers, potatoes, corn, flour or cheese; thick or thin; award-winning or “award-winning”. There is also a tomato-based version, known as a Manhattan Clam Chowder, that is apparently such an abomination according to the 1940s chowder aficionado Eleanor Early that it is not to be mentioned in the same breath as New England Clam Chowder.

Most chowder recipes include some sort of thickening agent that isn’t conducive to someone trying to limit their carbohydrate intake, so I figured I’d take on the likes of Ms Early and throw my jowls in the ring to come up with a recipe that suits my belly.

(For what it’s worth, I started eating low-carb at the start of the year in an attempt to get my reactive hypoglycaemia under control. Not only has it cured me of it, it has also cured my IBS symptoms. It’s like magic. Delicious cheesy, meaty, broccoli laden magic.)

I use cauliflower and xanthan gum as thickeners here, but the xanthan gum is optional – you could easily forgo it for a slightly thinner soup (the cauliflower gives two short planks a run for their money) or even substitute some cornflour mixed with water. The recipe is suitable for people with wheat intolerance, and anyone wanting to limit their carbohydrate intake. The onion and cream are obviously not great for someone on a FODMAP restricted diet, but I’ve personally found that choosing low-carb dairy options (for example using full fat cream instead of milk) naturally limits the amount of lactose in my diet given that lactose=sugar=carbohydrate, and I’m happily chowing down on such things with no belly dodginess.

This recipe can be easily tweaked for your household carb lovers by adding some boiled potatoes to theirs, and it gets a big thumbs up from my resident carb-head. So, while my recipe may succeed in uniting feuding chowder towns to turn against my travesty to all they hold dear, I will have reinforcements and won’t be an easy target on the couch in a hypoglycaemic quivering mess.

Parsley garnishes are still retro, yeah?

Seafood Cauli-Chowder


4 as a main dish. Refrigerate any leftovers and reheat to eat within a couple of days.

Nutritional information (per serve):

530 calories, 9 g net carbs, 33 g fat, 45 g protein. If you want even lower carbs, replace the scallops with more fish and reduce the amount of onion.


  • 3 rashers middle bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • freshly ground pepper (few grinds of the mill)
  • 1-2 tsp ground smoked paprika
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1-1.5 cups water
  • 100 mL sour cream
  • 200 mL whipping cream (heavy cream in the US)
  • 400 g cauliflower, chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
  • 2Tb fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum (optional thickener, generally found in the health food section of the supermarket)
  • 4 serves seafood (I used ~450g firm white fish, and ~250g scallops)


  • I don’t have a large enough pot with a good base for frying, so I do the first two steps in a frying pan then switch over to a pot, but please use the same pot for both if you are better appliance endowed than I.
  1. Fry off the bacon over a low-medium heat until well cooked and most of the fat has come out. Remove bacon, reserving the fat in the pan. I know it’s hard, but don’t eat the bacon yet.
  2. Turn up heat to medium and add the chopped onion to the pan, frying until slightly softened. Add carrot and celery and fry until all softened and there is a bit of colour on it all. Add the chopped garlic to fry off for the last minute.
  3. Add the chicken stock, water, paprika, pepper, bay leaves, sour cream and cream. Mix well, reduce heat and leave to simmer for around 20 minutes (can leave longer if you like, but keep an eye on the liquid levels – you may want to add more liquid, and cover the pot).
  4. While the soup is simmering, steam your cauliflower until soft then add it to the soup.
  5. Remove soup from the heat, take out the bay leaves and add the thyme. Puree the soup using a stick blender or equivalent.
  6. Add the parsley and bacon to the soup (reserving some for a garnish if you like) and return it to the heat, and add xanthan gum (if using) by lightly sprinkling over the surface and mixing through very well.
  7. Add your seafood, according to length of cooking (eg. I put my big scallops in first, then my chopped fish a minute or two later, then turned off the heat after another 4-5 minutes if that). Check your seafood for opacity to see when it is done.
  8. Garnish with any reserved bacon and parsley, and serve.
NOTE: I also boil up some potatoes to add to Fletch’s soup, and normally serve mine sitting on a little bed of spinach and/or steam broccoli because everything is better with little trees.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Chad Burger September 9, 2012 at 6:28 pm

This looks wonderful. I have quite a few seafood chowder reciepes floating around as well. Some better then others, but even the not as good as the other ones ones are still awesome. Funnily enough the one I like the best tastes like its got garlic in it but doesnt. Weird. I dig the idea of using cauliflower as a thickening agent- thats a winner right there.


Conor September 9, 2012 at 6:42 pm

Winner winner seafood dinner? This is my first attempt at chowder, and I daresay I’ll be taking a different approach when I finally thieve my brother-in-law’s recipe from him… he makes his stock from scratch using fish frames. He’s a bit of a seafood overachiever.


Chompchomp September 16, 2012 at 8:17 pm

It looks so fabulously thick and creamy! Yummo!
Chompchomp´s last blog post ..HAPPY 1ST BLOGIVERSARY!


Conor September 17, 2012 at 9:57 pm

Thanks! ’twas, quite! :)


Gcroft September 23, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Hi Conor

It’s a rainy day here in London, and I can’t think of anything better than seafood chowder (and thick, warm bread – but I’m a glutton) – a hug in a bowl.

Hope you’re keeping well! x


Conor September 26, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Hello!! I was just thinking about you the other day when someone mentioned the Love and Care Cafe. I hope you’re keeping well too, and a very belated congratulations to you! xx

It looks as though you got a bit ripped off with summer this year, I’m sorry to hear it’s soup weather again. If it’s any consolation, the rain is back here now too, and we’re looking at a maximum temp of 16 tomorrow. Come on spring!


foodie cravings October 23, 2012 at 10:16 pm

I love seafood chowder, reminds me of my childhood days – we use to have clam chowder with buttered bread every Sunday afternoon. Although it was clam, the closest I could find to replicating that clam chowder was a seafood chowder recipe :) Mine has slightly less ingredients and a few more short cuts than yours though.
foodie cravings´s last blog post ..An American feast at The Merrywell


Conor October 25, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Seafood was such a continual feature of my childhood (and still plays a huge role in family get-togethers) but we somehow never did clams. I guess we were too preoccupied with prawns and crays :) That sounds like a lovely Sunday afternoon tradition!


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