Farmers’ Market Spicy Seafood Chowder Base

Yummmm…. seafood chowder! 

Sometimes I get a craving, especially for the infrequently seen Manhattan type.  And living here in North Carolina, I’m so blessed to have access to some of the best and freshest seafood around.  This Farmers’ Market Spicy Seafood Chowder Base will give you goodness to keep on hand in the freezer to add fresh seafood anytime… chowder in minutes!  Loaded with fresh veggies from your local farms and farmers’ markets… 

This recipe makes about a gallon of chowder “base” to freeze in pints or quarts.  Once you make a batch, you can quickly have fish or seafood chowder in minutes by simply heating and adding your choice!  Although the chowder is tasty just as it is.  I used beautiful fresh fried oysters for this shoot for the magazine, but have also made a full fledge “seafood-palooza” with a combo of fresh shrimp, scallops, oysters and fish “garnished” with a scattering of crab.  Scrumptious… 

Enjoy with Crispy Dilled Cucumber Sandwiches and Frothy Brazilian Lemonade.

This recipe created for and published in Carolina Country Magazine May 2022.
Food propping/styling and photography (copyrighted) by Wendy Perry. 

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Farmers’ Market Spicy Seafood Chowder Base

Here in the south, we do love creamy chowders. I took a turn on this one and made a Manhattan-style chowder base full of tomatoes, summer vegetables and herbs you can keep on hand in your freezer to have fresh fish or seafood chowder ready in minutes. Freeze in quarts and add oysters (as we did), shrimp, crab, clams, scallops, fish or combination at serving time. We topped ours with crispy fried oysters.
Course: Chowder, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chowder, make-ahead, manhattan-style chowder, oyster stew, seafood chowder, spicy chowder
Author: Wendy Perry


  • 12 slices bacon chopped
  • 1 large sweet potato diced
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 3 stalks celery diced
  • 2 large carrots diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper diced
  • 2 large summer squash chopped
  • 1-64 oz. V8 juice I use spicy but any will do!
  • 2-14 oz. cans roasted diced tomatoes (in season, use equivalent fresh maters)
  • 2-8 oz. bottles clam juice
  • ¼ cup garlic paste
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup each loosely packed chopped fresh thyme and oregano
  • 3 large stems fresh rosemary
  • several bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons seafood seasoning I used Old Bay
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste at the end
  • 1 stick butter, divided


  • In a heavy pot or Dutch oven, cook bacon, sweet potatoes and onions over medium heat for about 3 minutes to render some drippings. Add remaining fresh vegetables and sauté until al dente, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in remaining ingredients except butter and bring to a simmer. Cook 5-7 minutes until vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Remove rosemary stems and bay leaves. Cool, package and enjoy or freeze. Stir in 2 tablespoons butter per quart to finish when serving.
  • At chowder time: Heat base to a low simmer. Add fish pieces or seafood and cook just until done, making sure not to overcook. Most will be done in 3-5 minutes. Or, “garnish” warm chowder with cooked seafood. Add about 1 pound of seafood per quart or as desired.


Use fresh herbs when making this chowder for optimum flavors!


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