Baja seafood chowder

Contributed by Preston Maring, MD

Baja seafood chowder

This week's recipe is modified from Soup of the Williams-Sonoma series. It is supposed to serve eight. Recently, I doubled it, served only eight, and ran out. It takes longer than 20 minutes to prepare, but, if you make extra and freeze it, you have a ready made low fat and tasty meal for a busy night. This chowder makes my top ten favorite list.


  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 small jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped (tolerance for "heat" varies widely — if you aren't sure, make it with only half the amount the first time)
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 cup fish stock (you can buy frozen fish stock, thaw and dilute it)
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 pound of tomatoes, coarsely chopped with their juice
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano (equivalent to 1 tablespoon fresh — most dried herbs are 3 times as potent as fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon of basil or chopped fresh basil
  • 1 baking potato, peeled and cut into 1/2” cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 to 2 dozen clams and/or mussels
  • 1/2 pound of firm fish (Ask at your local fish place what works well in a chowder)
  • 1/2 pound of prawns, shelled and deveined (Simple plastic shellers/deveiners are cheap and easy to find at kitchen stores.)
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped for garnish
  • Lime wedges to pass around


In a large pot with a lid, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the garlic, onion, bell pepper, jalapeño and pepper flakes a few minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the remaining ingredients except for the seafood. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the seafood, raise the heat a little, cover and cook until the shrimp are done and the clams and mussels have opened. Discard those that do not open. (If you make extra to freeze for a quick meal another night, do so before adding the fish.) Serve in warmed bowls, garnish with cilantro and pass the lime wedges.