Bay Scallop Chowder Recipe on Food52 (2024)

Cast Iron

by: Amanda Hesser



3 Ratings

  • Serves 12

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Author Notes

My family celebrates Christmas eve by sitting down to a big dinner. Back when my siblings and I were in our 20s, these meals were long, epic affairs that lasted until midnight and beyond. Now that we all have kids, they tend to be more punctuated but more lively with lots of adult and child banter (last year we had grilled oysters, roasted pork, and about 857 cookies). This bay scallop chowder, clipped from Food & Wine in 1998, makes its appearance at our holiday table every few years. It's a terrific starter course because most of it can be made ahead, and it feeds a crowd. —Amanda Hesser

  • Test Kitchen-Approved

What You'll Need

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces thickly sliced smoked bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 6 cups bottled clam broth
  • 6 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
  • Bouquet garni made with 2 bay leaves, 5 fresh parsley sprigs, 3 fresh thyme sprigs and 8 black peppercorns, wrapped in cheesecloth
  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 large leeks, white and tender green, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise 1/8 inch thick
  • 1 1/2 pounds bay scallops, membranes removed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
  1. Melt the butter in a large enameled cast-iron casserole. Add the bacon and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the clam broth, chicken stock and bouquet garni to the casserole and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to moderately high heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. (The recipe can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to a boil before proceeding.)
  3. Add the diced potatoes to teh soup and cook over moderately high heat until just tender, about 10 minutes. Discard the bouquet garni.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk 1/4 cup of the heavy cream with the cornstarch until smooth. Whisk in the remaining 2 cups cream, then whisk the mixture into the soup. Bring the soup to a boil over moderately high heat. Add the leeks and cook until just tender, about 4 minutes. (The chowder can stand at room temperature for up to 3 hours. Rewarm before finishing.)
  5. Stir the scallops into the chowder and cook over moderate heat just until opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes; don't let the soup boil. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle the chowder into a tureen or individual bowls. Garnish with the chopped chives and serve at once.


  • Soup
  • Chowder
  • Seafood
  • Bacon
  • Chive
  • Clam
  • Leek
  • Milk/Cream
  • Scallop
  • Make Ahead
  • Serves a Crowd
  • Cast Iron

See what other Food52ers are saying.

Recipe by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.

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3 Reviews

ifjuly February 11, 2019

I love this chowder so much, reminds me a lot of the clam chowder I grew up eating up North before moving (same foundational lardon-type bacon fat step, leeks, cream, potato, clam in some iteration, silky seafood...yum!) and as such was the perfect antidote to winter-time homesickness and damp overcast Sunday gloom. The kind of meal which, after you've finished your bowl and crusty slab of bread, makes you just wanna lean back in your chair and sigh, both woozy and restored, relaxed and ready to take on whatever residual challenges await on a cold evening. Thank you so much for this recipe, for your wonderful writing in all your recipes, and for providing such a wonderful site for these kinds of family-tied, soul-restoring dishes.

miznoodles January 3, 2014

I made this for New Year's Eve. I substituted haddock chopped into chunks instead of scallops. I didn't have chives and used only 2 cups of cream instead of the 2 1/4 cups (made up the difference in stock). It was so so delicious served with crusty bread. Highly recommended.

Synky April 12, 2012

Made this for lunch. Perfect! Wonderful recipe, blends great for babies too. Didn't have any clam broth, so used eight cups of chicken broth to make it a little thicker. Worked well, though I think I would put another tablespoon of cornstarch in the future to make it even thicker. Anyway, thank you for the wonderful recipe! Everyone loved it!

Bay Scallop Chowder Recipe on Food52 (2024)


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