We became a huge fan of the rich and creamy seafood chowder when we visited the Canadian Maritimes!
We wanted recreate the same seafood chowder at home and found a great recipe matching our taste experience at KellyNeil.com, ‘Nova Scotia Seafood Chowder’. Our version following this same recipe worked out great!
Give it a try. You will be glad you did!
6 strips bacon
2 tablespoons bacon fat
4 cups (1 litre) water
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/8 cup butter
3 medium potatoes (400g), washed, chopped into ½-inch (1.5-cm) pieces
2 large carrots (250g), washed, peeled, sliced into coins
3 cups (750ml) 35% heavy cream
1 cup cooked lobster meat (150g), chopped
1 cup shrimp (150g), deveined, tails removed
1 cup haddock (200g), sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 cup scallops (200g), fresh or thawed
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
Note: Instead of using lobster meat we use a seafood melody package we had on hand that included squid, cooked mussel and octopus.
1. If using frozen scallops, thaw before cooking. Once thawed, sandwich the scallops gently between paper towel to dry the tops and bottoms. The more dry the scallops are the better they will sear!
2. Cook the bacon strips in a frying pan until crisp. Place on paper towel to blot grease and set aside.
3. Keep the pan of bacon grease hot over medium-high heat. Place the thawed and dried scallops in the pan, and cook until golden on each side, about 2 to 3 minutes per side (cooking time depends on the size of your scallops). Set scallops aside.
4. Combine water, potatoes, and carrots in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the vegetables are tender.
5. Pour the heavy cream into the pot and bring the chowder to a simmer for 10 minutes.
6. Chop the dill and the chives.
7. Crumble the cooked bacon into small pieces with your hands.
8. Add the cooked bacon, butter and all of the seafood to the pot except the scallops. Continue to simmer for 5 minutes.
9. Add two tablespoons of bacon fat to the chowder for additional flavour (optional)
10. Season the chowder with salt and pepper. Stir and taste. Adjust seasoning if needed.
11. Ladle into bowls making sure each serving gets a fair share of seafood! Top each serving with pan-seared scallops, and a sprinkle of fresh dill. Serve hot with fresh rolls or biscuits.
Notes & Tips
Water vs. Stock – As the potatoes and carrots cook in the water, it essentially makes a vegetable stock for the base of the chowder. Feel free to substitute chicken or seafood stock if you prefer.
Take Your Nova Scotia Seafood Chowder To The Next Level And Make Lobster Stock – If using lobster in the shell, remove all meat from the lobster. Place the empty shells and body on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the shells for 20 minutes at 450ºF (230ºC).
Place the roasted shells in a pot, cover them with water, and gently boil for one hour. Top with more water if needed. Afterwards, strain out the shells, and reserve the liquid to use as your chowder base instead of water.
Proceed with the recipe as written.
Best Potatoes To Use – Any firm-fleshed potato will work. I use yellow potatoes because I always have them on hand!
Swap In Double Smoked Bacon – Sometimes available at your local butcher or specialty food shop.
Reduce The Fat – Nova Scotia seafood chowder also works with 18% coffee cream, and 10% cereal cream. I prefer the velvety smoothness of 35% heavy cream.
Use Any Fish You Like – A good tip is to look for what’s on sale! You can use halibut, salmon, clams, mussels, or anything else you like. My dad likes to add a can of clams with the juice when he makes seafood chowder.
If Using Raw Fish Or Shellfish – Most seafood, especially in small pieces, will cook within the five minute simmering time. If your fish is not cooked through, for example if you use larger shrimp, simply continue to simmer until any raw fish is cooked through.
A Note On Scallops – Some seafood chowder recipes instruct to add scallops to the pot and cook them directly in the liquid. I prefer the look and taste of golden, pan-seared scallops. You can do whichever you like.
Be Gentle When You Stir – After you add the fish to your Nova Scotia seafood chowder, stir it gently, especially if using haddock as it tends to fall apart easily.
Fresh Dill Substitution – Dill adds a bright tone which offsets the creamy richness of the chowder. Not everyone loves dill, however, and if this is you, try parsley instead. In my opinion, a lighter brighter note is definitely needed! I’ve thought about trying a teaspoon or two of finely grated lemon zest but haven’t yet.
Fresh Chives Substitution – If you don’t have access to fresh chives you can substitute chopped leeks or green onions. If adding leeks, place them in the pot at the same time as the carrots and potatoes to soften and infuse the stock with extra flavour.
Nova Scotia Seafood Chowder Tastes Better The Second Day – Like homemade beef stew, molasses baked beans, and many other dishes, resting the soup overnight allows all of the flavours to fully infuse.
To Store Nova Scotia Seafood Chowder – Keep your chowder in the pot with the lid, or in a plastic or glass container with an airtight lid, in the fridge for up to three days.
To Reheat Nova Scotia Seafood Chowder – Ladle portions into bowls or into a small pot and gently heat on half power in the microwave, or over medium-low heat on the stovetop until steamy.
Can You Freeze Nova Scotia Seafood Chowder? You can totally freeze chowder in a plastic container with a lid, or laying flat in a zip-top plastic bag for up to 3 months. Remove chowder from the freezer the day before eating and thaw overnight in the fridge. Reheat gently over low-medium heat in a pot on the stove, or at half-power in the microwave to prevent curdling.