What makes this one of the best seafood chowder recipes we’ve seen? It’s incredibly adaptable and produces a New England–style chowder that’s deeply flavorful yet light and decidedly not gloppy.
The recipe comes from Larsen’s Fish Market, a tiny seafood shack on Martha’s Vineyard. Instead of using salt pork or bacon, the team doubles down on flavors from the sea with clam juice, seafood or fish stock, shellfish, and white fish. Consider the ingredient list general guidance, not set in stone: While swordfish or sea bass is preferable, you can use haddock, cod, or whatever flaky white fish you’ve got on hand; if you can’t swing lobster, opt for a few extra large shrimp, or toss in some mussels or clams. For the potatoes, any variety—including Yukon Golds or red potatoes—will work nicely. Don’t have half-and-half? Swap in a combination of whole milk and heavy cream in equal proportion. Out of sherry? Use mirin, dry vermouth, or a dry white wine—or a squeeze of lemon juice if you prefer an alcohol-free option.
Instead of starting this seafood soup with a roux, as is traditional, you’ll make the flour-butter-broth mixture on the side and add it to the almost-finished pot. Stir it in gradually, just until the broth reaches exactly the consistency you crave. Garnish the creamy seafood chowder with oyster crackers and serve with a cold beer or glass of chilled white wine.