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May 2, 2012

Recipe for scallop, bacon and potato chowder


Rhode Island's nickname, The Ocean State, lets you know there is no shortage of fresh-caught seafood available here. And because we have a great variety of seafood, we have chowders. Not just clam chowder (in two styles, creamy and clear), but also mussel, fish and salmon chowders. A chowder is a chunky soup, sometimes with a slightly thickened base. This scallop, bacon and potato chowder boasts a delicate anise undertone, from the earliest tarragon leaves in my herb garden. Tarragon can overpower, so use just a small amount, and let the briny flavor of fresh sea scallops shine through. I serve this as a main course soup, with a hunk of crusty bread on the side.

Scallop, bacon and potato chowder

Serves 4-6.


2 slices center-cut bacon, diced
1 leek or medium onion, trimmed and diced
2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, diced (no need to peel them)
1/2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
2 Tbsp butter, divided
1 Tbsp all-purpose unbleached flour
1/4 cup white wine
16 oz clam broth
1 lb sea scallops (the large ones), trimmed
3/4 cup half and half (not fat-free)
1/2 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
2-3 chives, minced, for garnish


In a Dutch oven or heavy stock pot on low heat, sauté the bacon until crisp but still flexible. With a slotted spoon, remove the pieces, leaving the bacon fat in the pot.

Into the pot, toss the leek or onion and potato. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the onions are translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add the tarragon and thyme, and cook for 30 seconds.

Add 1 tablespoon of butter, and the flour. Stir  until the butter melts and the flour incorporates with the butter. Pour in the wine, and stir until the wine thickens a little bit. Then, add the clam broth. Bring to the simmer, cover the pot, and let cook for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.

WHILE THE SOUP BASE IS COOKING, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in a large saute pan. Dry the scallops with a paper towel, and toss them in a mixing bowl with the paprika. Set them into the saute pan, and leave them alone for 2 minutes. Turn, and leave them alone for 1 minute. Remove from heat.

When the soup base has cooked for 10 minutes, add the cream and scallops. Stir gently, and let everything warm together over lowest heat for 5 minutes. Add the reserved cooked bacon.

Serve hot, garnished with minced chives.

Print recipe only.


Posted by: Shirley @ gfe | May 2, 2012 at 11:06 AM

If I weren't going out to the dinner with the girls tonight, I'd make a gluten-free, dairy-free version of this heavenly chowder immediately. As I won't be home and have my dinner thawed and planned for tomorrow, I guess I'll wait until this weekend, but oh, I will be making this, Lydia! Thank you, dear. :-)


Posted by: daf | May 2, 2012 at 02:22 PM

Yum... that looks so delicious and makes me want to go find some scallops so I can make this chowder!!

Posted by: Lydia | May 2, 2012 at 06:21 PM

Shirley, you can thicken chowders with potato instead of cream, and perhaps with coconut milk though I've never tried it. Enjoy!

Daf, I feel so lucky to live in a place with great seafood!

Posted by: Carole | May 10, 2012 at 08:31 PM

Hi there, this is a really nice post.

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  • I'm Lydia Walshin, a longtime food writer who lives and cooks in a real log house. If I could, I'd eat Chinese noodles, grapes, ice cream and soup every day.
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