Fall in the Carolinas means it’s time to put the seafood chowder or gumbo on the stove. The autumn wind starts to bite and the kids need nutritious meals, as the school year begins to stretch and they participate in that last burst of recreational and outdoors activity before the winter hits.
There are also family gatherings and holidays, and Carolina seafood chowders and gumbos are a great alternative to traditional holiday meals and a great way to feed a lot of people in that downhome style.
There are many Carolina seafood chowder and gumbo recipes. You can choose one below or find a lot more choices on my Surf and Salt soups and chowders webpage.
Lowcountry Shrimp and Bacon Chowder
You can top this soup with any kind of shredded or grated cheese—yummy, and the kids love it!
- 2 slices bacon
- 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 small can minced clams
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 can cream of potato soup
- 1 soup can milk
- ½ teaspoon seafood seasoning or paprika
- ½ teaspoon each salt and black pepper
Fry bacon, drain and crumble (don’t throw away bacon grease). Cook onion in bacon grease until onion is tender. Add onion and bacon to a soup pot with some of the grease. Mix all other ingredients in the soup pot, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Serve with oyster crackers. Makes 6 servings.
Hearty Carolina Seafood Gumbo for 8
You need hearty white fish for this gumbo. Good choices are redfish, black drum, shark, sheepshead, or catfish. You could also use non-Carolina species like cod or haddock or farm raised tilapia. Requires two stove top pans, one big for the gumbo and one small to make the roux. Don’t omit the smoked sausage…unless you want to use Polish kielbasa which is terrific as well.
- 2 lb thick fish fillets, cut into chunks
- 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
- ¾ lb smoked sausage (12 ounces) cut into ½ inch pieces
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 4 cups okra, chopped
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 can chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon seafood seasoning
- dash hot sauce
In the main stove top pan sauté onion in a little olive oil until onion is almost translucent. Add green pepper and okra and continue to sauté for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
In a separate stove top pan melt butter and stir in flour. When mixed well add butter and flour (roux) to the vegetables in the other pan.
Add the other ingredients and stir gently. Bring to a boil for a second, then simmer covered for 1 hour (don’t let it boil again). You can keep simmering longer but the fish will break up the longer you cook—that doesn’t hurt the flavor but might not be the texture you like. Serve over white or wild rice with bread and crackers. Serves 8.
Manhattan-Style Fish Chowder
This is an old northern recipe perfect for Carolina fish…the seasoning is Old Bay up there but Cayenne pepper down south!
- 1 lb fish fillets, cut into 1-inch pieces (drum, catfish, sheepshead, cod, haddock, most any white fish)
- 1 can minced clams
- 8 slices bacon
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup green pepper, chopped
- 1/2 cup celery, chopped
- 1/2 head cabbage, chopped
- 1 cup potatoes, diced
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 cups tomato juice
- 2 teaspoons Cayenne pepper or Old Bay seafood seasoning
- three dashes Worcestershire sauce
Fry bacon until lightly browned, crumble and return to grease. Add onion, green pepper, and celery; cook until tender. Add broth, cabbage, potatoes, and seafood seasoning.
Bring to a boil and reduce heat, simmer 10 minutes. Add fish and clams along with tomato juice, Cayenne pepper and Worcestershire sauce, return to just under boil and cook until potatoes are done, about 5 more minutes. Serves 6 to 7, serve with saltine crackers.
Easiest Carolina Seafood Chowder
Kids love this quick, simple seafood chowder! You can let them sprinkle any kind of shredded cheese on it that they like.
- 1 1b shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 can condensed New England style clam chowder
- ½ soup can milk
- ½ soup can chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon sour cream
- 1 bag mixed vegetables
- ½ teaspoon seafood seasoning
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
Add all ingredients and bring to a boil, quickly reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. What could be easier? Top with shredded cheese if you want and serve with saltine crackers. An easy and delicious Carolina chowder. Makes 6 servings.
If you want to know more about fishing and cooking on the Carolina coast check out my book Surf and Saltwater Fishing in the Carolinas