Easy dinner recipes: Rich seafood chowders in an hour or less

With the weather finally cold and thankfully rainy, warm up this evening with a comforting bowl of chowder. We have three variations that come together in an hour or less.

Andalusian seafood chowder: Take the seafood chowder from cookbook author Janet Mendel. The recipe is for a rich Andalusian variation -- gazpachuelo con pescado -- which, Mendel wrote, has "obvious roots in gazpacho, [and] is thickened with an olive oil and egg emulsion. The simple version contains bits of fish and potatoes, but more elaborate versions ... contain chunks of fish, shrimp, ham, potatoes and peas." The dish takes less than an hour to make.
La Conner Brewing Co.'s clam chowder: It's a classic clam chowder -- creamy and rich, with a nice balance of clams and potatoes -- straight from Washington state.

Halibut chowder with spring herbs and sugar snap peas: New potatoes and tender chunks of halibut are simmered in a rich milk broth flavored with bacon and bay leaf. When the chowder is ready, add fresh chervil and chives, along with sugar snap peas, which will brighten and keep their sweet crunch.

You can find the recipes below.

And for more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below or email me at



Total time: 50 minutes | Serves 6

Note: For the fish, use a white fish such as cod or halibut. Serrano ham is available at select gourmet markets and specialty stores.

1 egg, at room temperature

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 quarts simple fish stock (see related recipe)

1 1/2 cups diced boiling potatoes

1/4 cup shelled peas, fresh or frozen

1 1/2 cups chunks of raw fish

1/4 cup chopped Serrano ham

1/3 cup peeled shrimp (3 ounces)

1/4 cup dry sherry

Salt and pepper to taste

1. In the bowl of a blender, place the egg. With the motor running, add the oil in a slow stream until it is emulsified (it will thicken like a mayonnaise). Blend in the lemon juice, then set aside. (If the emulsion happens to "break" while it is blended, simply pour out the mixture and add a fresh egg white to the blender container. Add the mixture in a slow stream to fix the emulsion.)

2. In a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot, add the fish stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, until somewhat softened but not cooked through. Add the peas and cook an additional 5 minutes.

3. Add the chunks of fish, ham, shrimp and sherry. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer.

4. With the blender running, ladle about 1 cup of the hot broth from the soup into the emulsion in the blender and blend until smooth. Remove the soup from the heat and whisk the emulsion into the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. The soup can be reheated, but do not boil. This makes a generous 2 1/2 quarts of soup.

Each serving: 313 calories; 18 grams protein; 9 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 22 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 82 mg cholesterol; 1 gram sugar; 1,402 mg sodium.


Total time: 1 hour | Serves 8

Note: Adapted from La Conner Brewing Co. in La Conner, Wash.

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 pound onions (about 1 onion), chopped

4 stalks celery, chopped

1 1/4 teaspoons garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried thyme

3/4 teaspoon dried dill leaves

3 (6.4 ounce) cans chopped clams, drained and broth reserved

Up to 2 cups jarred or canned clam broth or juice

1 pound baking potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 1/4 teaspoons Worcestershire, or to taste

5 teaspoons lemon juice, or to taste

1 1/4 teaspoons Tabasco or other vinegar-based hot sauce

2 cups heavy cream

Salt and pepper

1. In a heavy-bottomed stock pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and celery, and cook until the onions are translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, thyme and dill, and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute.

2. Measure the reserved clam broth, adding additional jarred broth to bring the total volume to 2 1/2 cups. Add the broth to the pot, along with the potatoes; the broth should just cover all of the contents in the pot. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the clams, Worcestershire, lemon juice, hot sauce and heavy cream. Gently simmer for 5 minutes to marry the flavors. Taste and season with three-fourths teaspoon salt and one-half teaspoon pepper, or to taste. This makes about 2 quarts soup.

Each serving: 324 calories; 7 grams protein; 19 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 25 grams fat; 16 grams saturated fat; 101 mg cholesterol; 2 grams sugar; 558 mg sodium.


Total time: 45 minutes | Serves 6

1/4 pound bacon (about 3 thick slices)

1 shallot, minced

1 pound small potatoes, cut into similar-sized pieces

2 cups milk

2 cups half-and-half

1 bay leaf

1 1/2 pounds halibut, cut into 1 1/2 -inch pieces

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 pound sugar snap peas, strings removed if necessary

1 tablespoon minced chives

2 teaspoons chervil leaves

1. Cut the bacon in thin slices crosswise and combine with the minced shallot in a medium pot. Place over medium heat and cook just until the shallot softens and the bacon frizzles (you don't want it to render completely, just begin cooking) about 5 minutes.

2. Add the potatoes and stir to combine the flavors. Add the milk, half-and-half and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Cook, maintaining a moderate simmer, until the potatoes are quite tender, about 20-25 minutes.

3. Remove the bay leaf. Add the halibut and the salt and cook until the halibut is firm, about 4-5 minutes.

4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sugar snap peas, chives and chervil. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Serve immediately into heated bowls.

Each serving: 377 calories; 33 grams protein; 22 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 17 grams fat; 9 grams saturated fat; 81 mg. cholesterol; 375 mg. sodium.