Flavorful keto fish chowder is hearty and filling and makes a wonderful winter meal.
I make it with cod and flavor it with onions and bacon. Heavy cream makes it wonderfully creamy and paprika gives it a beautiful color.
This delicious chowder is so hearty and filling! It's one of my favorite winter meals to make for my family and I love that it's indeed a full meal - you don't need to serve it with any side dishes (but you can definitely serve it with these keto cheese biscuits).
It has this wonderful combination of being flavorful, creamy, filling, and gorgeous - I add paprika and cayenne and these spices give the chowder a gorgeous golden hue.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this keto fish chowder. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here are my comments and tips about some of the ingredients:
Cod fillets: Make sure they are skinless and that the pin bones have been removed. You can also use halibut in this recipe. I typically buy 2-lb. bags of frozen cod at Whole Foods or at Costco and simply defrost the amount I need, in the fridge, the day before.
Olive oil: I use it to cook onions, garlic, and spices, before adding the broth. Many chowder recipes use butter, but I really love the taste of olive oil.
Spices: Apart from salt and pepper, I use dried thyme, paprika, and cayenne pepper. I love the color that these spices add to the soup. And of course, I love the flavor! The cayenne does make it spicy, though not too spicy for my taste.
Clam juice: You can also use fish stock, though I do love the flavor of clam juice.
Bacon bits: Another departure from traditional recipes where you cook the bacon and crumble it. You can do that, of course, and then you can cook the onions in the bacon fat. It's just that I'm lazy so I simply sprinkle bacon bits on top of the finished soup.
Making this keto fish chowder is easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
You start by cooking chopped onions in olive oil, then you add minced fresh garlic and spices.
Next, you add clam juice and bring the soup to a simmer.
Now, add chunks of cod. Make sure the liquid in the saucepan covers the cod. Bring back to a low simmer, then cover and cook until the fish is cooked through. This should take about 7 minutes.
Briefly heat the heavy cream in the microwave and stir it into the chowder. That's it! It's ready. Now pour it into bowls, garnish with chopped parsley and bacon bits, and serve.
Make sure not to overcook the fish. Start checking after 5 minutes. You want it cooked through, but you don't want it overcooked, or it will be dry and gummy instead of tender and flaky.
Frequently asked questions
Chowder is a rich, hearty soup, made with seafood and thickened with potatoes and milk or cream. The word "chowder" comes from the French word chaudière (“cauldron”).
A chowder is creamier, chunkier and thicker. I would say that if a soup is at one extreme and a stew is at the other, then a chowder is somewhere in the middle in terms of its texture.
That's indeed a challenge. Since it's made without potatoes (and the starch they add), this chowder is not thick - it has the consistency of a rich soup. It's excellent - creamy and flavorful - but it's not thick.
If you'd like to thicken it, you can use any keto thickener that you like. One example is glucomannan powder - try mixing ½ teaspoon in a tablespoon of cold water and stirring that into the finished soup.
However, keep in mind that authentic chowders are not necessarily thick.
I love this recipe as is and almost always make it as written. But in case you'd like to vary the basic recipe, here are a few ideas for you:
- You can use butter instead of olive oil for cooking the onions.
- Replace the paprika with smoked paprika - it adds a wonderfully smoky flavor.
- Halibut works well in this chowder, though it's more expensive than cod.
- If you don't like spicy foods, omit the cayenne.
While this is a very filling soup that doesn't really need any sides, it's nice to serve it with bread. I often serve it with one of the following:
Leftovers keep in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to three days. Reheat them gently, in a saucepan on the stove over low heat, stirring frequently. To prevent the heavy cream from curdling, don't allow the chowder to boil.
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Keto Fish Chowder
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
- 2 cups clam juice or fish stock
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 lb. skinless cod fillets pin bones removed, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 4 tablespoons bacon bits
- Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, 1 more minute.
- Stir in the salt, pepper, dried thyme, paprika, and cayenne.
- Add the clam juice. Bring to a gentle simmer.
- Add the fish pieces. Make sure they are completely submerged. If not, add a little water or more broth.
- Bring the soup back to a gentle simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Cook on low simmer until the fish is just cooked through, 5-7 minutes.
- Heat the heavy cream in the microwave for 60 seconds. Stir it into the soup. Turn the heat off.
- Divide the chowder between four bowls. Top with parsley and bacon bits and serve.