Neapolitan Fish Chowder

Serves 8

Italian fishermen unknowingly invented fish chowders and stews that were born from the trimmings of the daily catch that no one would buy. Thrown into a pot with some herbs, spices, water and maybe wine, what was left behind became something beyond soup. Over time, the recipe was refined and added to with other ingredients, such as tomatoes and hot pepper.


4 pounds in-shell clams (littleneck or mahogany)

4 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half

¼ cup minced Italian parsley

1 cup dry white wine

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup chopped fennel

1 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes or ½ teaspoon hot red-pepper paste

3 cups puréed plum tomatoes 

1 pound squid rings

1 pound sea scallops, cut in half

1 pound medium raw shrimp, shelled and deveined (26/30 count)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Juice of 1 large lemon

8 toasted bread slices


1. Scrub the clams in cold water, discarding any with cracked shells. Place the clams in a large sauté pan with 4 garlic halves, the parsley and wine. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat until the clams open. Discard any clams that do not open. 

2. Remove clams from the pan, reserving the liquid and straining it through a cheesecloth; set the liquid aside. 

3. Remove clams from their shells. Set aside.

4. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and fennel, and cook until they begin to soften. Add all the remaining garlic and continue cooking until it softens; stir in the pepper flakes or pepper paste, and cook 1–2 minutes. 

5. Add the reserved clam juice and the puréed tomatoes; stir well and bring to a boil. Boil for 

2 minutes, then lower heat to medium, add the squid rings and cook for 5 minutes. 

6. Add the scallops and continue cooking for 3 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook an additional 3 minutes. 

7. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the clams and heat slowly on low heat until hot; stir in the lemon juice. 

8. Place a slice of toasted bread in each of 8 large bowls. Ladle the chowder over the bread and serve. 


More of Mary Ann Esposito's recipes you may be interested in

Vegetable Chowder

Serves 6–8

Scallop Chowder

Serves 4

Corn and Bok Choy Chowder

Serves 8–10

Chowders and Bisques— Simple and Elegant

Add bread and salad, and you have a perfect winter meal.
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