Vintage Recipe: New England Fish (Cod) Chowder

Thanks to the Maine Rebekahs, whom I consider to be some of the greatest New England home cooks who have also provided almost 100 years of recipes, you can make a winning, traditional New England fish chowder. I’ve adapted this simple, frugal 1920s recipe to make it meat-free since New England fish chowders almost always contain pork in addition to seafood. Wayne said that he wouldn’t have noticed its absence based upon how flavorful this is. Truly it’s so easy to make yet it will produce a chowder that will make you feel like a seasoned New England cook.


My adaptation:


2 tbsp butter

1 cup chopped white onions

1 1/2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes cut into one inch pieces

1 1/2 lbs cod filets cut into one inch pieces

3 cups whole milk (I like a thick chowder which is why I only used three cups instead of four)

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp parsley flakes


Place a dutch oven on medium heat and add the butter. Once melted, add the onions and potatoes and stir. Add the fish on top but do not stir. Cover with water and simmer until the potatoes are tender but not falling apart. Add the milk (no need to “scald” it. Modern pasteurization has eliminated that need), salt, pepper and parsley and then gently stir once. Turn the heat down to medium low and let sit for about thirty minutes. The chowder should be hot but not bubbling so turn the heat down if necessary.

Maine Vintage Recipe New England Chowder with Cod (2)

Because of the starch in the potatoes, the longer the soup sits the thicker it gets!

New England Fish Chowder With Oyster Crackers

Chowder is traditionally served with “oyster crackers” or, as the Maine Rebekah instructs us, “six small crackers (buttered) on top.”

Homemade Gluten-Free Oyster Crackers

I used my own homemade buttery chowder crackers, the recipe for which will appear in my in-progress book, The New England Diet.

Spoonful of Chowdah

We had this on Friday and the leftover chowder for lunch today. It’s really satisfying and true to its roots. Don’t feel like you have to use fish stock to add more fish flavor, add flour to thicken it or use heavy cream like many current recipes instruct one to do. This one is a simple winner!

4 thoughts on “Vintage Recipe: New England Fish (Cod) Chowder

  1. YUMMY! Your adaptation is very similar to the way I make baked potato soup and cream of broccoli soup- I use broth and ‘creamed’ potatoes instead of milk or cream. You have once again inspired my menu… guess what I want for dinner next Friday??

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Always happy to inspire!!! But I do add milk to it…will you make a dairy-free chowder? If so I need to hear how it turns out!


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