I love seafood. I love seafood of any kind whether it be shrimp, crab, lobster, clams, mussels, and oysters. I have to say seafood is my absolute favorite food (can you tell I love seafood?). Growing up on the East Coast and spending time with my grandparents in Wilmington, North Carolina always allowed for an abundance of seafood on the menu.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy seafood in the winter is to make a big pot of seafood chowder. There is nothing better on a cold winter night than to eat a warm bowl of chowder accompanied by a piece of freshly baked bread. So when a cold front moved into town this weekend, I decided it was time to make some creamy seafood chowder.
Trying to find fresh seafood in the Raleigh, NC is a little bit of a challenge. Before moving to North Carolina I lived into Hampton, Virginia. When I needed seafood I would drive one mile down the road to Buckroe Bait and Tackle and the owner, Ronnie Cantrell, would hook me up with whatever seafood I needed. Now that I live in North Carolina I have to drive about 30 minutes up the road to find fresh seafood.
This seafood chowder can be made using whatever seafood your family prefers. Honestly when I make this chowder it is with whatever seafood I can find at a reasonable price. For this particular recipe, I used shrimp, oysters, lump crab meat and claw crab meat. I was able to find Phillips crab meat which thrilled me because Phillips seafood is also located in Hampton, Virginia. In the summer I would sometimes go by Phillips and pick up a bag of blue crab legs for five dollars and sit for over an hour picking through the meat.
This recipe makes a family size pot of seafood chowder. When I prepare this chowder, I always fix a large pot because this is a meal that my entire family loves and the entire family gathers together to enjoy. Basically I tend to cook for a small army. Also leftover chowder is excellent the next day.
Cook’s Notes For Thick And Creamy Seafood Chowder:
For the thickest soup, be sure to use baking potatoes, such as russet. They break down as they cook a bit and act to thicken the soup naturally,
This soup really needs a generous seasons, especially with salt, to bring out all the flavors of the seafood. Don’t be shy. Keep adding salt until the flavors shine.
You will need to use about 2 to 3 pounds of seafood for this chowder (or more if you love an abundance of seafood in your chowder).
For the creamiest chowder, you’ll want to use heavy cream. If you don’t have or don’t want to use heavy cream, you could use a light cream, but you’ll want to mix in about one tablespoon of cornstarch with the lighter cream before adding to the soup, to help thicken the soup.
It is okay to use frozen seafood. I prefer fresh seafood but sometimes I find the frozen looks better than the fresh. The oysters I used in this recipe were frozen from Locals Seafood in Raleigh at the State Farmer’s Market. They were some beautiful and plump oysters. Oh so good. If you are using frozen seafood there is no reason to thaw your seafood ahead, if you don’t want to. You can add frozen seafood directly to the hot liquid.
Aunt Pam’s Creamy Seafood ChowderCourse: Seafood, SoupCuisine: American
This Creamy Seafood Chowder is full of flavor and is a wonderful way to enjoy seafood. Use whatever seafood you like! Great with shrimp, oysters, scallops, fish and/or crab.
8 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
2 medium shallot, minced
2 tablespoons of chopped garlic
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups seafood stock
1- 8 ounce bottle clam juice
2 pound large shrimp
1 quart oysters
1 pound crab meat lump or claw
2 teaspoons old bay
3 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup salted butter
6 medium russet potatoes scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a large Dutch oven or stock pot, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 8 min. Transfer the bacon to a small plate lined with paper towels, leaving the fat behind in the pan.
- Add the shallots and garlic to the bacon fat and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are soft and translucent, about 2 minutes Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
- Gradually stir in the clam juice. Add the potatoes, and thyme. Add enough seafood stock to the pot to just cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender but not too soft, about 10-15 minutes (depending on the size of the dice).
- Add the shrimp and oysters. Slowly stir in the heavy cream, butter and Old Bay seasoning. Continue to stir until thickened and heated through. Turn to low.
- Add crabmeat and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper
- Portion into warm soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with the reserved bacon.