Papa's Fish Chowder - Classic New England Comfort Food

Papa’s Fish Chowder {Video}

Do you have a favorite comfort food? Papa’s Fish Chowder might be mine.

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Papa's Fish Chowder - Classic New England Comfort Food
Papa’s Fish Chowder – Classic New England Comfort Food

Growing up, my dad was the one most likely to be found cooking in the kitchen.  Whenever we visit him in Massachusetts, the kids always request Papa’s Fish Chowder as one of their first meals! It’s really that good.

Papa's Fish Chowder - A New England Classic
Papa’s Fish Chowder – Top With Bacon, Chives, and Crackers

I generally don’t eat a lot of seafood in Charlotte since I grew up about a mile from the ocean in Massachusetts and I have been totally spoiled by really fresh fish, but every once in a while, I really need a taste of home.  We are lucky to have a few spots near us to buy fresh and frozen fish.

Where To Buy Fish

Whole Foods is great about labeling fish in terms of source of origin and sustainability. I really appreciate that. Right down the street from us is a small fish market called Clean Catch.  It specializes in responsibly fished and caught seafood.  When I trek in there with all four or five kiddos in tow, the owner and his staff are always excited to tell us about the fish they had gotten in that day and what would probably be arriving for the weekend.  We chose the cod from Massachusetts to make Papa’s Famous Fish Chowda. I have also bought wild Atlantic cod from Whole Foods – it is frozen, but it still works really, really well in this recipe.

Start With The Basics – Bacon

This classic New England fish chowder recipe is all about the steps. Start by cooking up ten pieces or so of bacon. I eat five of them and save the other five for garnishing the finished chowder. Totally not kidding.

Papa's Fish Chowder - A New England Classic
Everything good starts with bacon.

After cooking up the bacon, leave the bacon grease in the pan and add one large chopped onion.

Papa's Fish Chowder - A New England Classic
Onion. Essential.

Next, roughly cut up a whole bunch of potatoes. Add them to the onion.

Papa's Fish Chowder - A New England Classic
Potatoes. Also essential!

Cook the onions and potatoes together for about 7 minutes and then add corn and 32 ounces of chicken or vegetable broth along with two bay leaves. I actually end up adding an additional 1 to 2 cups of broth, usually, just to stretch it to feed all of us!

Chowder Doesn’t Need Flour

In a separate small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of corn starch together with 3 tablespoons of water. This will help thicken up your chowder. Add the cornstarch mixture to the chowder and then turn the heat to medium to medium high and let cook for about 15 minutes until the potatoes are cooked.

Papa's Fish Chowder - A New England Classic
Salt and pepper your fish.

While the chowder is simmering, prepare the fish. I like to salt and pepper both sides of the cod and then cut it into 1 inch pieces.

Papa's Fish Chowder - A New England Classic
Cut the cod into 1 inch pieces.

Cook the chowder with the fish for about 7 minutes until the fish is cooked. For the last step, add one pint of cream. Stir through the chowder and then turn the heat to medium low. You want the chowder to heat up, but you don’t want the cream to curdle. Serve with bacon, chives, and crackers!

Papa's Fish Chowder - A New England Classic
Papa’s Fish Chowder Perfection

Want to See a Video?

Click here for a quick link to see how easy it is to make Papa’s Fish Chowder on YouTube. Or watch the video below!



Need more soups? 

Corn and Potato Chowder 

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Papa’s Fish Chowder

Papa's Fish Chowder

This classic New England fish chowder will become a family favorite. 

Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Keyword Seafood
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 489 kcal
Author Erin Brighton


  • 1 1/2 lbs cod
  • 10 slices bacon cooked
  • 4 medium potatoes chopped
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 c corn canned or frozen
  • 32 oz chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 2 T cornstarch mixed with water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pint heavy cream


  1. Fry the bacon until crisp.  Remove the bacon, crumble and set aside to garnish the finished chowder.

  2. Add onion to the bacon grease and cook for about 2 minutes.

  3. Add potatoes and cook for about 7 minutes.

  4. Add chicken broth - make sure there is enough broth to cover the potatoes. Cook until potatoes are almost done - about 15 to 20 minutes.

  5. Add corn. Add flour/cornstarch mixture to thicken. Add 2 bay leaves. Add fish. Cook for about 10 minutes.

  6. Add a pint of heavy cream or half and half. Warm the chowder but DO NOT let it come to a boil.

  7. Turn off the burner and let it sit until you can't stand it anymore and you just have to eat it. Garnish with crumbled bacon and oyster crackers - or Papa's personal favorite topping - crushed Ritz crackers. Enjoy!

Papa's Fish Chowder - Classic New England Fish Chowder
Papa’s Fish Chowder

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Erin Brighton

I am a native New Englander now living in beautiful Charlotte, North Carolina and enjoying summers in sea-breezy Scituate, Massachusetts with my five small kids and two large dogs. I love to cook easy, local, and gluten-free for friends and family.

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