Take any coastal region of the world. If you dig deep enough, you’ll find dozens if not hundreds of native seafood soup recipes in that region. Most of these you won’t ever find on the internet. In fact, the overwhelming majority of seafood soups remain relatively obscure.
Take New England, for example, a region known for its rich seafaring heritage and seafood cuisine. In my cookbook, New England Soups from the Sea, I include 80 seafood soup recipes from around New England. Yes, 80! Most people are surprised when they hear that. After all, very few restaurants venture beyond New England clam chowder and lobster bisque.
Before the food industry eroded our coastal culinary traditions and simplified our tastes in seafood, there was a time when Americans consumed the bounty of the sea in many forms, including seafood soups, and were comfortable making a wide variety of seafood soup recipes. I’m sure this is true in other areas of the world too.
From Rhode Island to Maine—Get 80 locally inspired recipes that honor the traditions of America’s northeast.
Old cookbooks are a testament to the diversity that once existed. Chowders used to include dozens of different species, not just clams. Bisques were commonly made with more than just lobster. Fish soups included a greater diversity than just cod and haddock. And seafood stews, native to every seafaring culture on the planet, showcase varieties that are as vast as the ocean itself.
The 100 seafood soup recipes included here may seem like a lot but it barely scratches the surface. Regardless, there’s a lot more to seafood soups than just clam chowder and lobster bisque. Hopefully, you’ll find something new and try something different!
Seafood Stocks and Broths
– Clam Chowders (1-10)
– Fish Chowders (11-16)
– Shellfish Chowders (17-22)
– Lobster and Crab Bisques (23-27)
– Other Seafood Bisques (28-33)
Classic Stews and Medleys
– Mediterranean Seafood Stews (34-41)
– Portuguese Seafood Stews (42-45)
– Cajun and Creole Seafood Stews (46-49)
– Traditional New England Seafood Stews (50-54)
More Seafood Soups and Stews from Around the World
– Southeast Asia (55-64)
– East Asia (65-69)
– Caribbean (70-72)
– Mexico (73-74)
– Central America (75-78)
– South America (79-82)
– Africa (83-86)
– Nordic (87-90)
– Russia (91-92)
– Eastern Mediterranean (93-95)
– United States (96-99)
No Recipe Seafood Soup Recipe
– Make Your Own Seafood Soup! (100)
Before we get to the recipes, it’s important to acknowledge that homemade seafood stocks and broths form the foundation of any great seafood soup. In particular, they contain more balanced, aromatic, and fresher flavors than store-bought versions.
For example, fish stock gives fish soup recipes, be it fish chowders, stews, or even brothy fish soups, a delicate boost in the briny and salty qualities of the sea. It’s a much better choice than water or chicken stock in any fish soup recipe.
Most of the 100 seafood soup recipes are made with homemade stocks and broths. But not all include directions for how to make them. The recipes in this section will go into more depth and serve as a reference for making your own.
If time and/or unfamiliarity means you’re not going to make stocks and broths from scratch, then there are a few good store-bought seafood stock and broth options. In particular, there is an excellent store-bought fish broth and two excellent store-bought clam broths (also called clam juice), which are included in their respective links below.
That said, please understand that making your own stocks and broths will elevate your seafood soup recipes into another stratosphere of deliciousness. Yes, you can make decent soups from store-bought stocks. But you can’t make epic, soul-stirring ones. Making your own seafood stocks and broths is also a nice skill to add to your cooking skills repertoire!
Perhaps the most widely consumed seafood chowder, at least in America, New England clam chowder reigns supreme in this category of seafood soups.
Contrary to popular belief, its position as the King of Chowders is only a fairly recent historical development. There are many types of clam chowder in New England, as well as other regional styles around the United States. These classic seafood soup recipes take many forms and can include almost any type of fish or shellfish.
1. Authentic New England Clam Chowder
2. Milky Maine Clam Chowder
3. Rhode Island Clam Chowder
4. Manhattan Clam Chowder
5. Long Island Clam Chowder
6. Portuguese Clam Chowder
7. North Carolina Clam Chowder by The Blond Cook
8. Minorcan Clam Chowder by She’s Cookin
9. Pacific Northwest Razor Clam Chowder by Serious Eats
10. Pacific Northwest Manila Clam Chowder by Luna Cafe
11. Classic New England Fish Chowder
12. Smoked Haddock Chowder with a Poached Egg
13. Bluefish Chowder
14. Wild Salmon Chowder
15. Cullen Skink (Scottish Smoked Fish Chowder) by Healthy Christian Home
16. Bermuda Fish Chowder by Goslings Rum
17. Lobster Corn Chowder
18. Mussel Chowder with Fennel
19. Oyster Chowder with Spinach
20. Scallop Chowder with Wild Mushrooms
21. Caribbean Conch Chowder by Garlic and Zest
22. Shrimp Chowder by Masterclass
When it comes to bisques, it’s rare to find anything other than a lobster bisque on restaurant menus. But other types of seafood bisques can, and should, be made too.
The key to any great bisque is the stock. Crustaceans, especially lobsters and crabs, make incredible stocks. The one advantage of making bisque from seafood other than lobster and crab, is they tend to be less time-consuming. Mussel and clam bisques only require their respective broths, which are easily made via five to ten minutes of steaming.
23. Lobster Bisque by Cafe Delites
24. Crab Bisque
25. Slow Cooker Key West Crab and Lobster Bisque by xoxoBella
26. Corn and Blue Crab Bisque by Grits and Pinecones
27. She Crab Bisque (South Carolina Crab Bisque) by What a Girl Eats
Every seafaring culture has its native seafood stews. Bouillabaisse, cioppino, gumbo, paella, and countless others combine multiple types of fish and shellfish with their ultra-flavorful juices from their shells, mixing, melding, and morphing into some truly wondrous symphonies of the sea.
The difference between a soup and a stew is really just the amount of liquid. Soups are brothier and stews are thicker, the latter coming from a higher ratio of meat and vegetables to broth and/or an extended simmering to reduce the broth to a thicker consistency.
But there are plenty of gray areas. Many types of seafood soup recipes have a stew-like character more from the multifarious types of seafood than from a thickened base. For example, bouillabaisse is often more soup-like than stew-like. Same for the simple milk-based New England shellfish stews, like oyster stew.
And some soups like chowder are more like stews. Thick or think, in the end, the only thing that really matters is if it tastes good. And with stews and medleys, you can never go wrong. I consider them the Mt. Everest of all seafood dishes and truly some of the greatest dishes on the planet.
36. Marmitako (Spanish Tuna Stew)
37. Zarzuela (Spanish Seafood Stew)
38. Bourride (French Seafood Stew)
39. Zuppa di Pesce (Italian Fish Stew)
40. Croatian Seafood Stew (Brudet) by Forking Good Food
41. Smokey Cioppino by Killing Thyme
There are so many seafood soup recipes from around the world that it would be impossible to include them all. Any country with a significant coastline surely has a long tradition of soups with seafood. What follows are some of the more well-known recipes. If you have some favorite seafood soup recipes not included here, please share them in the comments below!
Also, I’ve attempted to select recipes without overly exotic or impossible-to-find ingredients. You may have to substitute an ingredient here and there but the recipes could at least be closely approximated in most kitchens.
57. Mohinga (Burmese Fish Noodle Soup)
61. Vietnamese Sweet and Sour Fish Soup (Canh Chua Ca) by Hungry Wanderlust
62. Vietnamese Shrimp Pho by Sense and Edibility
63. Miso Salmon Sinigang (Filipino Tamarind Salmon Soup) by Mikha Eats
64. Indonesian Fish Soup (Tekwan Palembang) by Asian Food Network
65. Kimchi Seafood Soup by Champagne Tastes
66. Japanese Asari Clam Miso Soup by Low Carbing Asian
67. Traditional Miso Soup with Dashi Stock by Just One Cookbook
68. Chinese Milky White Fish Soup by Souped Up Recipes
69. Sister Song’s Chinese Fish Soup by Omnivore’s Cookbook
73. Mexican Fish Soup (Caldo de Pescado) by In Mama Maggie’s Kitchen
74. Veracruz Style Fish Soup (Bacalao a la Veracruzana) by Muy Bueno Cookbook
75. Honduran Fish Soup (Sopa de Caracol) by 196 Flavors
76. Guatemalan Seafood Soup (Tapado) by 196 Flavors
77. Nicaraguan Fish Soup (Sopa de Pescado) by Nata Knows Best
78. Panamanian Seafood Stew (Guacho de Mariscos) by Curious Cuisiniere
81. Encebollado (Ecuadorian Fish Stew) by Amigo Foods
82. Moqueca (Brazilian Fish Stew) by De l’Amour en cocotte
Established seafood soup recipes are all fine and dandy but sometimes it’s fun to improvise and make your own recipe, especially when you have leftovers.
Do you have any leftover frozen shrimp or fish? Do you have some leftover broth and a can of diced tomatoes in your pantry? How about some bottled clam juice? Onions, garlic, and greens? Lemon or lime? Fresh herbs and spices? You’re good to go!
What follows are 5 different categories of choices for creating your own recipe. You’ll see my choices at the bottom of each category which I’ll be using in the video demo and printable recipe.
But the idea here is to choose what appeals to you, or in many cases, whatever you have in your fridge and pantry. Watch the video to see how to put it all together and use it as a springboard to create your own unique recipe!
This is the foundation. It will partially determine the degree of seafood flavor in your soup. But choosing your broth/stock may also boil down (pun intended) to time and convenience. The cool thing though about seafood soups is that different types of stocks and broths are interchangeable. If you don’t have the time to make your own, check out these store-bought seafood stock and broth options.
My Broth Choice
I often have fish stock in my freezer but I’m completely out of it right now so I’m going with a quart of Aneto Fish Broth. I’m also going to add one bottle of Bar Harbor clam broth to give the soup a briny boost.
It could be one type of fish or shellfish or multiple types. Greater variety typically adds more flavor profiles, especially whole shellfish, like clams and mussels, which release their ultra-flavorful liquids into the soup when their shells open.
Don’t be afraid to try a new type of seafood! Embracing the diversity of our national fisheries (which are very well-managed and sustainable), helps local fishermen and fisherwomen.
For lean whitefish, instead of cod, which has been tragically overfished, try hake, haddock, Atlantic pollock, monkfish, black sea bass, or even porgy.
For more full-flavored oily fish, instead of farmed Atlantic salmon, which has negative environmental effects and is mostly shipped from overseas, try striped bass, bluefish, mackerel, or swordfish.
For shellfish, if you’re going to use shrimp, please stop eating shrimp from abroad. I know it’s cheap and convenient but there are environmental consequences to farmed shrimp too.
Seek out US-based wild-caught shrimp. Or choose shellfish that are local to you. There are dozens of different types of clams, mussels, scallops, crabs, squid, and even snails, that make great seafood soup recipes.
My Seafood Choice
The photo above shows my three choices – a pound of haddock, a pound of wild-caught US shrimp, and a pound of local littleneck clams.
You can’t go wrong with onions and garlic. Fennel has a nice anise flavor that complements most seafood well. Carrots, celery, peppers, corn, and peas are all good options. Don’t forget greens like spinach and kale. Starchy vegetables like potatoes will add bulk.
Don’t overthink this! Typically, whatever you have in your fridge will work just fine.
My Choice of Veggies
I’m going with onion, fennel, and garlic.
All four choices are great! As the many types of clam chowder can attest, a tomato-based seafood soup (like Manhattan clam chowder) can be equally delicious as a cream-based one (like New England clam chowder) which can be as equally delicious as a tomato AND cream-based one (like Long Island clam chowder) which can be just as fantastic as a purely broth-based seafood soup recipe (like Rhode Island clam chowder).
It’s totally up to you. Whatever your taste buds desire or crave is the right choice. I should also add that seafood soups often include a little dry white wine, typically simmered with the veggies before adding the broth. It’s optional but highly recommended. I do include white wine in my recipe below.
I’m going for a cream-based version. Now when I say, “cream-based,” I don’t mean ultra-rich and creamy, like a chowder. I’m not thickening my recipe with flour, so it’s still a rather brothy soup. I only add a little cream (about a cup) which gives the soup a slightly richer flavor.
Seasonings include spices, herbs, citrus, and so forth. Now I can’t tell you exactly what seasonings to use or in what amounts. But what I can tell you is to not be afraid to experiment. Through experience cooking, your nose and tongue will start to gravitate towards different combinations that you like.
There’s no right or wrong. You’ll learn through trial and error. Needless to say, salt and freshly ground pepper, enliven just about any soup recipe. Sometimes that’s all you need. But there’s a handful of things that tend to work really well with seafood soups.
Allspice, mace, saffron, juniper berries, and fennel seeds are great seafood-friendly spices that add wonderful depth and complexity to seafood soups, especially broth and/or dairy-based soups.
Paprika, red pepper flakes, or other dried chile pepper spices can add some nice zing to tomato-based soups.
Some seafood spice blends can work well depending on the recipe. I like Frontier Organic Seafood Seasoning blend in cream-based soups.
It’s hard to go wrong with fresh herbs in a seafood soup recipe. Thyme, basil, dill, oregano, parsley, and rosemary are all great. Heartier herbs like bay leaf, thyme, and rosemary can handle more heat and are typically simmered with the stock/broth. More delicate, leafier herbs like basil and dill should be added at the end to better retain their flavors.
The acidity and sweetness of citrus enhance and brightens the flavor of many seafood soups, especially broth-based ones. It’s hard to go wrong with fresh lemon juice, but fresh lime juice and be just as good depending on the recipe.
You might also choose the zest of the citrus peel, which adds a more subtle citrus character than the juice. In that case, orange zest is a good choice along with lemon or lime zest.
Apple cider vinegar can be a great finishing touch in tomato-based seafood soups, especially one with lots of zest and spice like this Portuguese clam stew or this Portuguese squid stew. Hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, or fish sauce are other possible seasonings.
My Seasoning Choices
As shown in the photo above, I’m going with bay leaf, allspice berries (or ground allspice), and saffron, which are simmered with the broth. And then I add lemon juice, fresh basil, and fresh oregano at the end.
Please note, saffron is the most expensive spice out there so it’s OK to skip it. But you typically only need a pinch. A jar of saffron, which goes for around $15 to $20, can last a while.
Saffron’s bright, floral flavor is such a great addition to many types of seafood soups so I recommend having some on hand. Frontier Saffron is a good choice.
Now let me show you how this all comes together in about 20 minutes. Below the video, you’ll see a printable recipe with specific ingredient amounts. Enjoy!
Craig Fear is the creator of Fearless Eating and the author of three books, The 30-Day Heartburn Solution, Fearless Broths and Soups and The Thai Soup Secret. After years helping clients with digestive issues, Craig decided to pursue writing full-time. He intends to write many more books on broths and soups from around the world! Click here to learn more about Craig.