Seafood chowder

Seafood chowder

Something for Everyone
Ben Dearnley

I adore a good chowder – it takes me straight to Boston where I was lucky enough to spend some time studying. If you’re making this dish for six people, use 2 kilograms mussels. Your kids, like mine, might love to dip in chunks of bread to mop up the yummy soup at the end.


Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 bacon rashers, rind removed and diced, (optional; see note)
2 onions, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tablespoons plain flour
500ml milk
2 large desiree potatoes, peeled and cut into 1.5 cm dice
500ml reduced-salt fish stock, (see note)
or 500ml reduced-salt chicken stock, (see note)
2 corn cobs, kernels cut from cobs
500g firm white boneless fish fillets, cut into bite-sized chunks
1kg mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1/2 bunch chives, finely snipped, to garnish


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the bacon (if using) and cook until starting to crisp. Add the onion, celery and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the flour and stir for 1 minute.
  2. Stir in the milk, add the potato and stock, cover, and cook for 5–10 minutes, or until the potato is almost tender. Stir in the corn and fish, cover and cook for a further 5 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through.
  3. Meanwhile, place the mussels in a separate large saucepan over medium heat. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mussels open. Drain and discard any mussels that have not opened.
  4. Remove half of the mussels from their shells and keep the remaining mussels on the half-shell. Add them to the chowder. Divide among serving bowls and garnish with chives, to serve.


  • Processed meats, such as bacon, have been linked with a higher cancer risk, so I prefer to use them sparingly. I also use organic whenever available.

Baby’s serve

  • For a younger baby, blend the soup to a smooth consistency, using as much liquid (water or your baby’s milk) as needed to achieve the desired consistency. For an older baby, keep the blended texture lumpier or simply chop up the mussels (remove the shells) and potato and serve as is.

Toddler’s serve

  • Chop up the mussels and serve as is, with a short-handled spoon.


  • When making soups for your children, always use a reduced-salt, preferably home-made, stock. Babies’ developing kidneys, in particular, can’t handle much salt and it can cause them to become dehydrated.
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