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Nova Scotia Seafood Chowder

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Nova Scotia seafood chowder is a rich, creamy, soup that's so easy to make from scratch! This version is loaded with seafood, with bacon and fresh dill added for extra flavor.
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
A bowl of creamy seafood soup topped with a pan seared scallop.

Seafood chowder plays a big part in my Maritime heritage (as do Nova Scotia oatcakes and Nova Scotia blueberry grunt). Rich, creamy, and hearty, my parents have argued this is not a traditional recipe for Nova Scotia seafood chowder because I use 35% heavy cream instead of canned evaporated milk, and I make it with bacon and dill. Either way, it’s delicious, and everyone who makes it or tries it loves it.

Once the ingredients are prepped, the soup is quick to come together—about 35 minutes. You can use any seafood you like or have on hand—fresh or frozen—however, I don’t recommend adding salmon as the flavor can sometimes overpower the other fish. Once you make this easy East Coast classic from scratch it will be hard to go back to any other version!

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💞 Why You’ll Love This Recipe

✔️ It’s a delicious way to showcase your favorite seafood.
✔️ You can make it one pot for easy cleanup.
✔️ It’s a simple recipe that always impresses guests!

📋 Ingredients

Ingredients to make seafood chowder.

Ingredient Notes

  • 35% Whipping Cream—This is also called heavy cream.
  • Lobster—The lobster must be pre-cooked.
  • Bacon—Thick-cut bacon holds up nicely. I sometimes use double-smoked bacon for extra flavor.

It’s important to note that when making substitutions in recipes, the texture and flavor may be slightly different. However, these substitutes are the best options if you are looking to change the original recipe.

Ingredient Substitutions

  • Seafood—You can use any fresh, frozen, or thawed frozen seafood you like or have on hand.
  • Dill—Parsley is a fresh-tasting substitute for dill.
  • 35% Whipping Cream—You can substitute 18% coffee cream or 10% blend (also called half and half) for the whipping cream.

🎬 Recipe Video

Use the JUMP TO RECIPE button at the top of this post, or scroll to the bottom of the post, to see the PRINTABLE recipe card with ingredient measurements and complete instructions.

👩‍🍳 How To Make Nova Scotia Seafood Chowder

STEP 1—Dry the scallops between sheets of paper towel. Cook the bacon in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until it’s almost crisp.

STEP 2—Cook the dried scallops in the hot bacon grease until golden. Remove the scallops from the pot and set them aside.

Process shots one and two to make Nova Scotia seafood chowder.

STEP 3—Add the water, potatoes, carrots, and half of the salt to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the vegetables are tender.

STEP 4—Pour the cream into the pot. Bring the chowder back to a simmer and continue to cook for 10 minutes.

Process shots three and four to make Nova Scotia seafood chowder.

STEP 5—Add the haddock, lobster, and shrimp to the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes.

STEP 6—Add the cooked bacon bits, chives, dill, pepper, and remaining salt to the pot. Stir well. Serve hot topped with pan-seared scallops and a sprinkle of fresh dill.

Process shots five and six to make Nova Scotia seafood chowder.

🗣Expert Tips

1. Take your seafood chowder to the next level and make lobster stock. See the recipe notes for how to do this.
2. Stir a teaspoon or two of Old Bay seasoning, or finely grated lemon zest into the pot before serving.
3. Add a tin of canned clams, including the juice, to the chowder when you add the seafood.

📝 Recipe Notes

  • Look for seafood when it’s on sale and freeze it for later.
  • Cook as many scallops as you want to serve per bowl.
  • I prefer the look and taste of pan-seared scallops but you can add them directly to the pot when you add the other seafood if you want.
  • After you add the fish to the chowder, stir it gently, especially if using haddock as it tends to fall apart easily.
  • Seafood chowder tastes better on the second day. Resting the soup overnight allows all of the flavors to fully infuse. I’d even argue the chowder tastes best on the third day.
  • Keep your chowder in a plastic or glass container with an airtight lid in the fridge for up to three days. To reheat, ladle portions into bowls or into a small pot and gently heat on half power in the microwave, or over medium-low heat in a pot on the stovetop until steamy.
  • I don’t recommend freezing chowder.

🦞 How To Make Lobster Stock

Lobster stock is a simple way to take your seafood chowder to the next level. I sometimes use it in place of water.

  1. Remove all of the meat from a cooked lobster.
  2. Place the empty shells and body on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the shells for 15 minutes at 450ºF (230ºC) or until toasted and fragrant.
  3. Place the roasted shells in a pot, cover them with water, and gently boil for one hour. Top with more water if needed.
  4. Strain out the shells, and reserve the liquid to use as your chowder base instead of water. Proceed with the recipe as written.
A bowl of creamy seafood soup on a red tablecloth.

🙋‍♀️ Recipe FAQ

How long does seafood chowder last in the fridge?

Stored in an airtight container with a tight-fitting lid, Nova Scotia seafood chowder will last for three days in the fridge.

What to serve with seafood chowder?

In the Maritimes, it’s pretty classic to serve seafood chowder with a soft dinner roll or tea biscuit. Other options are crackers, a sandwich, or a simple green salad on the side.

How do you thicken seafood chowder?

If you want a thicker base than whipping cream alone offers, add a tablespoon or two of all-purpose flour or cornstarch when you add the seafood to the pot.

Did you make this Nova Scotia seafood chowder? Please rate the recipe and tell me how it went in the comments below. Also, stay in touch with me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest to see more delicious food and recipes!

Printable Recipe Card

A bowl of Nova Scotia seafood chowder topped with a pan seared scallop.

Nova Scotia Seafood Chowder

Author: Kelly Neil
Nova Scotia seafood chowder is a rich, creamy, soup that's so easy to make from scratch! This version is loaded with seafood, with bacon and fresh dill added for extra flavor.
4.66 from 118 votes
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Soups & Stews
Cuisine Canadian
Servings 8 servings
Calories 531 kcal

Special Equipment

  • Paper towel
  • Slotted spoon optional
  • Tongs
  • 6 quart (6L) pot cast iron or other heavy bottomed pot
  • Measuring cups and spoons or digital kitchen scale
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Wooden spoon
Need Metric Measurements?Use the button options below to toggle between US cups and Metric grams.

Ingredients
 
 

  • 12 large scallops, fresh or thawed frozen, see notes
  • 6 strips bacon, or 3 thick cut strips, cut into bits
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 large potatoes, washed, unpeeled, chopped into ½ inch (1-½ cm) pieces
  • 2 large carrots, washed, unpeeled, sliced into ¼-inch (6-mm) coins
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3 cups 35% whipping cream
  • 1 cup haddock, fresh or thawed frozen, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup lobster, cooked, chopped
  • 18 large shrimp, fresh or thawed frozen, tails removed, deveined, chopped or whole
  • 2 tablespoons chives, fresh, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons dill, fresh, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ground

Instructions
 

  • Sandwich the scallops gently between sheets of paper towel to dry the tops and bottoms. The drier the surface of the scallops, the better they will sear. Set aside.
  • Cook the bacon in a large heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat until it's almost crisp. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
  • Keep the bacon grease hot over medium-high heat. Use tongs to gently place the scallops in the pot. Cook until golden, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove the scallops from the pot and set aside.
  • Add the water, potatoes, carrots, and half of the salt to the pot. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any stuck on bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Pour the cream into the pot. Bring the chowder back to a simmer and continue to cook for 10 minutes.
  • Add the haddock, lobster, and shrimp to the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add the cooked bacon bits, chives, dill, pepper, and remaining salt to the pot. Stir well and adjust the seasoning to suit your taste. Ladle the chowder 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.

Video

Recipe Notes

  • Look for seafood when it’s on sale and freeze it for later.
  • Cook as many scallops as you want to serve per bowl.
  • I prefer the look and taste of pan-seared scallops but you can add them directly to the pot when you add the other seafood if you want.
  • After you add the fish to the chowder, stir it gently, especially if using haddock as it tends to fall apart easily.
  • Seafood chowder tastes better on the second day. Resting the soup overnight allows all of the flavors to fully infuse. I’d even argue the chowder tastes best on the third day.
  • Keep your chowder in a plastic or glass container with an airtight lid in the fridge for up to three days. To reheat, ladle portions into bowls or into a small pot and gently heat on half power in the microwave, or over medium-low heat in a pot on the stovetop until steamy.
  • I don’t recommend freezing chowder.

Nutrition

Serving: 375gCalories: 531kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 19gFat: 41gSaturated Fat: 24gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0.03gCholesterol: 159mgSodium: 731mgPotassium: 776mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 4462IUVitamin C: 20mgCalcium: 100mgIron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Let me know on Instagram @kellyneildotcom or tag #kellyneil!

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52 Comments

  1. This recipe looks fabulous, but I have no idea how much of anything to put in the chowder. It looks like you put it out here for seasoned cooks.

    1. 5 stars
      Meredith, come in from left field. The recipe has it all spelled out like it should. Let’s look at the seafood, for example. It calls for a cup each of lobster meat, scallops, shrimp and haddock. All the measurements are there for the other ingredients. Just scroll back up, honey. Hope you enjoy the chowder!

  2. This sounds delicious.
    I plan to leave out the bacon but add two or three handfuls of samphire which is easily available here in uk. Perhaps it’s available in Canada as well. Natural salt and a lovely bright green, takes 2 or 3 mins to cook and will add a load of colour to the dish.

    1. Hi Anne.
      Marsh Samphire, Sea Beans or hear in BC Sea Asparagus is common in the mid to northern hemisphere the world over. Anywhere an abundance of fresh water meets and mingles with the sea. That could be a marsh or where a river ends into the ocean. I have noticed it grows close to shore in gravel or dirt but always on the water side thats saltier. The closer you get to fresh water inlet, the less likely you are to find it. So its in a sweet spot… briny rather than straight seawater but always on the sea faring edge of banks and shores.
      Its fairly abundant along many coastal walking trails near fresh water run off or blending.
      But beware picking those under constant pressure of Dog Pee opportunities😁 you’ll know, if your dog is sniffing a patch like he hit the doggy grapvine jackpot… its probably a well established pee/phone booth for them. So just walk off the beaten path a little to aquire this lovely gem of a briny snap bean flavour and texture. Wash well and enjoy in soups, casserols, stirfries and salads. Yum!!!

    1. Oh yay! I’m so glad you loved it Caitlin! I’m sure you *could* make this in your crockpot, but you’d have to cook the bacon and scallops in a separate pan. I’m also not sure if the cream would curdle in the slow cooker if it was left on for hours.🧐 Sorry I’m not more help than that!

      1. 5 stars
        If you add 1 package of cream cheese softened to the crock pot or add the heavy cream and cream cheese together on a medium heat in a skillet stir and melt the cream cheese to blend before adding to the crock pot the cream won’t separate aka curdle. You may have to add more seasoning as cream cheese requires more. But I do this trick all the time for alfredo sauce and heavy cream sauces for all soups etc. If the recipe called for 1 cup heavy cream I use 1/2 to 1 package of cream cheese if it calls for two cups heavy cream I use 1 full package. It makes the soups super creamy and so good.

  3. 5 stars
    Simply amazing!! I’ve made this chowder 3 times now and will continue to. I’ve never left a review on a recipe before but this one definitely deserves one. This chowder is so rich and full of flavor. At first I was a little apprehensive about using the dill weed. I’ve never cooked with it before and wasn’t sure how it would taste. I tell you what, it puts this recipe over the top. It brings all the flavors together and compliments it so well. I did make a minor modification based on what was available to me. First I used seafood stock instead of water. For the seafood I used fresh scallops, halibut , crab (couldn’t find lobster), shrimp, and clams. Up here in the PNW, this chowder is perfect those cold and rainy days. Thank you so much for sharing this amazing recipe!!

      1. Wow! Good for the soul indeed! Used cod as the fish and also added clams into the mix. Bumped seafood and bacon quantities up by 50% and went with 18% cream and shrimp/lobster stock instead. The Old Bay and dill addition is a must. What great flavour. Best chowder I have ever made and super hearty. Will stick to the recommended seafood amounts next time though to keep costs in check, was a terrific treat! Better than Mom’s or Grandma’s, but you didn’t hear that from me, haha.
        Thank you Kelly for another superb recipe.

        Mark Kelly

      2. I made it ,but tweeked it instead of water ,I used turkey broth that I made after Christmas turkey eating.
        Added mushrooms, corn,and onions instead of carrots
        Holy yummy
        Thank you for this recipe

    1. Hi Marie! You can do wither with the shrimp as they cook very quickly if raw. I can’t see why adding the liquid from the canned lobster wouldn’t be good as it would add extra lobster flavor! You may just have to add a bit of extra seasoning to account for the extra liquid but just do that to taste to suit your preference.🥰

  4. This was delicious, and as a Maritimer, I’m quite particular about my chowder! Old Bay is perfect seasoning, as well as the dill. I added some scallions to give it a bit of flavour as well. I do find its thin, was wondering how to thicken it without ruining the taste. Cornstarch maybe?

  5. 2 stars
    I’m sorry, I’m very disappointed with this chowder. Too much water that ruins the taste of the wonderful seafoods I had put in there.

    1. Thank you for trying the recipe and sharing your feedback Luc. I’m sorry to hear that the chowder did not meet your expectations. This recipe has been a favorite for many, but I understand that tastes can vary. Your input is valuable, and I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment. Thank you, Kelly.

  6. 5 stars
    Made this a few months ago and I love it! I substituted a lot of the ingredients since I didn’t have some on hand and added a ton of veggies to it. I froze my batch in multiple mason jars (my husband doesn’t eat anything that contains milk, cheese or cream) and so I was left with a lot. I just unscrew the top, half unfreeze it in the microwave and heat the rest on the stove top. Since I’m not a big fan of it being liquid I do add a bit of cornstarch to thicken (makes kind of a stew). It’s still the best recipe I’ve tried so far!

  7. 5 stars
    Oh my Lordy! I am from the Maritimes (New Brunswick) and was looking for a good old fashioned type of chowder (one of our towns restaurant here boasts the world best famous chowder) as I’m sure many places do 😉 However, this was hands down the best chowder we have ever eaten! I believe your option if the lobster stock substitute for water really made the difference! Also, I added a good amount of butter and more seafood, it is an easy recipe to play around with. I didn’t have dill so substituted for parsley, next time I will try the dill to see the difference, but it turned out amazing as it was!

    Hubby said it’s the best chowder he has ever had, gave some to our neighbours and they said better than their mother’s recipe, taking some to my brother’s family to try tomorrow. Will absolutely make this again! Thank you for this incredible recipe, as a lot of chowders can be bland.

  8. 5 stars
    Tried this recipe and it was delicious!! I did add some Old Bay seasoning and left out the dill as I didn’t have any, but will try it next time. Thank you, I am sure I will be coming back to this recipe lots!

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