The best seafood chowder recipe in Cape Town

The word chowder, a corruption of the French word chaudière meaning “cauldron”, is believed to date back to the early 1700s, where the arrival of Breton fisherman introduced the thick cream soup to Newfoundland in Canada.  Made on deck to feed hungry sailors at sea, the popularity of the dish soon spread throughout North America to become a firm favourite, especially in maritime provinces.

Like a good potjie, everyone has their own take on this soup style stew – but no one makes it like we do. Warm and hearty, the best kind of comfort food, this one is ideal for the last of the cold winter nights.

The best seafood chowder recipe in Cape Town

Servings 6 people


Chowder Ingredients

  • 1 Packet streaky bacon (optional)
  • 1 Kg Defrosted frozen clams (defrost in the vacuum bag to save the juices)
  • 1 Pack defrosted seafood mix (800g)
  • 1 Onion diced
  • 2 Stalks celery diced
  • 2 Medium sized carrots diced
  • 2 Leeks diced
  • 2 to 3 Medium sized potatoes diced (Mediterranean potatoes are best)
  • 2 Cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 Litre Chicken stock
  • 1.5 Cups Full cream milk
  • 1/3 Cup Butter
  • 1/3 Cup All-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • Fresh chives to garnish

Beer Bread Ingredients

  • 1 Bag Barret’s Ridge Beer Bread (original or chilli flavour)
  • 1x 330 ml Beer
  • Butter for serving


Step 1 – Beer Bread

  • Follow the instructions on the back of the Barret’s Ridge Beer bread pack. It’s as simple as adding the beer, stirring the mixture and popping it in the oven. Enjoy home-baked, delicious bread ready in 45 minutes.

Step 2 – Crispy bacon

  • Heat up a big frying pan.
  • Add the bacon and fry until golden and crispy.
  • Remove the bacon and place aside to drain – do not pour out the remaining juices in the pan.

Step 3 – Making the base of the chowder

  • In the same pot, toss in the diced carrots, leek, celery, onion, garlic and potatoes and fry until they have some colour.
  • Pop the bay leaf in and stir through.
  • If you are leaving out the bacon, heat the olive oil prior to adding the vegetables.

Step 4 – Cooking the clams

  • In a separate pot, add 500 ml of vegetable stock and bring to a boil.
  • Add the clams directly from the vacuum pack and close the lid of the pot.
  • Keep enough heat under the pot to boil the liquid and steam the clams for about 7- 10 minutes– the shells will open when they are done (discard any clams that have not opened).
  • Once cooked, pour the vegetable stock into the pot with the vegetables.
  • Cover the vegetables completely with stock and cook until tender.
  • Cook off the stock until you have a chunky thick soup base.

Step 5 – Handle the clams

  • Remove the clams from their shells.
  • Bin the shells and dice the clams.

Step 6 – Seafood mix

  • Add the seafood mix to the vegetable pot and cook through.
  • If you want to create a fancier version, replace the seafood mix with diced hake, kingklip or Cape gurnard, calamari and prawns. You can choose whichever you like.

Step 7 – Creamy chowder

  • In a separate pan, melt the butter over medium heat.
  • Once the butter is melted, whisk in the flour until smooth.
  • Slowly add in the milk and whisk until the mixture is creamy, thick and smooth.
  • Add into the cooked vegetables, pop in the diced clams and stir to combine. Do not allow the mixture to boil.
  • Generously season to taste.

Step 8 – Serving

  • Serve in bowls and garnish with the diced bacon and chopped chives.
  • This is even tastier with pieces of the fresh beer bread, lathered in butter – use it to mop up the chowder.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!