Mary Anne's Fish Chowder

Chowder is a thick, chunky seafood soup commonly associated with clam chowder. Chowder can be made with a variety of seafood and vegetables. Although this dish is great during the Lenten season, your family will be asking for it beyond Lent. Cilantro is an essential ingredient to this recipe, so please do not leave it out. This chowder makes a lovely presentation and can be served over rice or in a bowl by itself.

3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons paprika (smoked or sweet)

1 small onion, diced

1 small green bell pepper, diced

2 stalks celery, thinly sliced

2 cups carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

2 cups diced potatoes

2 (14.5-ounce) cans Italian diced tomatoes, do not drain

4 cloves garlic, minced, you can add less if you want

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/2-1 teaspoon dried oregano, more if desired

1/2-1 teaspoon dried thyme, more if desired


1-2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning, more if desired

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Red pepper flakes, to taste, optional

2 1/4 cups chicken stock, canned or homemade, add more if needed

Splash of your favorite white wine, optional

1 1/2 pounds skinless tilapia, cod, halibut, red snapper or your favorite fish, cut into 2-inch chunks

1/2-1 pound prepared shrimp, optional

4 slices crusty garlic French or Italian bread, toasted, optional

  • Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the bay leaves and paprika and simmer on low, stirring for about 30 seconds. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, carrots, potatoes, diced tomatoes, garlic and 2 tablespoons of the cilantro or basil. Season with salt and pepper, and, if using, red pepper flakes. Cover and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Add chicken stock and, if using your favorite white wine. Reduce the heat to medium low. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Add fish and if using, the shrimp and stir. Cover and simmer until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Divide the stew among bowls. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons cilantro or basil. Serve with the toasted garlic crostini and wedges of lime.

Note: This soup is liquid-y; you can serve it over rice or you can add a tablespoon or two of corn starch mixed with warm water, chicken or fish stock to thicken it.

Note: For a change-of-pace, you can substitute fillets of haddock, catfish or striped bass.

Note: You can also add a little kick to this stew by adding cumin or chipotle chili powder.

Note: Sometimes I have added shredded cheese, sliced avocado, and green onions right on top of the stew just before serving.

Serves 4.