Three Onion Chowder with Parsleyed Oyster Crackers

By • February 15, 2010 • 36 Comments

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Author Notes: I really like chowders and really like French onion soup. I don't like pasty chowders so I didn't thicken it except for the starch released from the potatoes. One tip I learned from Jasper White's 50 Chowders is to let the chowder rest covered for thirty minutes. It is really does make a difference by allowing the flavors to come together. - thirschfeldthirschfeld

Food52 Review: We'd argue that if you include the chives and garlic, this is really a five onion soup, but we're not going to quibble with thirschfeld who clearly knows how to make a great chowder. In additon to all the onions, the soup is flush with herbs -- thyme, parsley and bay leaf. Chowders can easily be leaden but here the pancetta and half and half are used with restraint. The best part of the recipe -- next to the parsleyed oyster crackers, which you'll find yourself dropping into everything you can think of -- is the cooking technique: once the chowder is assembled, you bring it to a boil, then shut off the heat, cover the pot and let it sit for 30 minutes. Magically, the potatoes cook through and all the flavors align. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 4 to 6

For the Soup:

  • 3 ounces pancetta, 1/4 inch dice
  • 2 cups yellow onion, peeled and julienned
  • 2 leeks, rinsed, white parts only, sliced into half moons
  • 4 shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 1/3 cup celery, 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 3 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 dice
  • 1 tablespoon Italian parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  1. In a 3 quart Dutch oven or sauce pan add the butter and pancetta and place it over medium heat to render the pancetta. Once some of the fat has been released add the onions, shallot and celery. Saute until they are just becoming golden. You don't want them to brown too much or the soup will be brown. Add the leeks, garlic and thyme. Cook until the leeks are just becoming soft. Add the bay leaf and chicken stock. Bring it to a boil and add the half and half and the potatoes. Bring the soup back to a boil and then immediately turn off the heat and cover the pot. Allow it to rest for at least thirty minutes.

Parsleyed Oyster Crackers

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup oyster crackers
  • 1 tablespoon Italian parsley, minced
  • Fine sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  1. Heat a small saute pan over medium high heat. Add the butter and once it has stopped bubbling but is not brown, add the oyster crackers and toss the crackers to coat with the butter. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley and toss the crackers gently in order to coat all the crackers with the parsley. Pour out onto a baking sheet and let cool.
  2. To finish the soup reheat it but don't let it boil. Taste a potato to check and see if it is done and adjust the seasoning if necessary. If the potatoes are not done then cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Stir in the parsley and chives and then ladle into cups or bowls. Top with a few oyster crackers and serve.

Tags: can be made ahead, rich

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Comments (36) Questions (1)


almost 2 years ago Ghost House Kitchen

You'd think chowder is only with clams or corn which somewhat limiting for accessibility reasons. But onions! we always got some kind of onions. We liked this chowder a lot!


over 2 years ago DJH-CT

We made this soup last weekend and it was one of then best we have ever had! Really! We are getting some snow here today, and we are about to make a double batch. Thanks for the great recipe!


over 2 years ago Lilismom

I am making this wonderful and comforting chowder, again, tonight! It was perfect and my family loved it! Your recipes inspire me and never disappoint! So, tonight, in South Alabama, your chowder will be bubbling away in my favorite copper pot.


over 2 years ago thirschfeld

thank you so much for your kind words.


almost 3 years ago Lilismom

I can hardly wait to make this soup. I am a huge fan of French onion soup and chowder too, so it's what's for dinner tonight!


over 4 years ago andreoutkast

Wow made this today and my partner and child loved it look forward to making more from this great site


over 4 years ago thirschfeld

Oh great, I am glad you enjoyed it so much you plan to make it again. That makes my day, thank you.


over 4 years ago DonnaOP

Your wonderful recipe got rave reviews from my friends yesterday at lunch. It was great!! I made 2 small alterations: I used condensed skim instead of half and half (not great for the color but...) and added 1/4 inch diced butternut squash. Even better? Leftovers for tonight!
Thanks so much for sharing this with this rest of us -


over 4 years ago thirschfeld

you are very welcome and I am glad you enjoyed it. I think your addition of butternut squash is great.


over 4 years ago FifteenForever

So I saw the picture and thought this chowder looked yummy. Read the ingredient list.... and instructions. Butter? Corn? Didn't see them listed.... hmm. Oh well, I know how to roll. Followed instructions, removed from heat,covered and let stand for 30 minutes. My potatoes were hard. Put back on the heat, and simmered another 30 minutes. Flavor was much better, potatoes still hard. 30 more minutes.... tender potatoes and Great flavor. My advice? Cook this soup longer than instructed for fully developed flavor. I bet it will taste even better the next day


over 4 years ago thirschfeld

Sorry to hear about your potatoes. I have cooked this soup a lot, maybe over 50 times or more, and I have never had the potatoes remain hard but none the less I am sure it can happen. Seems like in the end you enjoyed the soup but I am sorry you had to go a round about way to get there.


over 4 years ago Amg03102

Great recipe! I made it with fat free half & half, and added some small shrimp and it was wonderful. Thanks


over 4 years ago thirschfeld

thank you, the shrimp would be nice.


over 4 years ago Crispini

Viewed this recipe on Huffington Post, which lured me to this fabulous site brimming with wonderful ideas and energy. So, I joined. How could I not? I made this chowder two nights ago with the addition of some leftover chunks of Oregon coast steelhead. Fragrant and luscious! And thanks so much for the 30 minutes off-the-heat tip after adding the potatoes. The texture was perfect! I'll use this technique for chowder from now on.


over 4 years ago thirschfeld

Thank you and I am so glad you like it. Salmon would be to great


over 4 years ago Meggie

I just made this for a few friends as a part of a "pre" thanksgiving meal. They all loved it. In fact, my friend just told me it was her favorite part of the meal! I didn't even add the chives or parsley at the end because I didn't see that the last paragraph under the cracker menu was meant for the soup - but it was still delicious!

Thanks for the great recipe - this was a great fall soup that didn't require a food processor, which was my only stipulation of the night.


over 4 years ago thirschfeld

Thank you and you are welcome. I am so glad everyone enjoyed it


over 4 years ago elizabeth627

I made this on Saturday and had it for dinner tonight. It was terrific with a lovely balance.


about 5 years ago lastnightsdinner

This was tonight's dinner, and it was really delicious. Since I didn't see the butter listed in the ingredient listing for the chowder, though it appeared in the first step, I winged it and used what we like to call "a knob" :D Also pulled the pancetta out after it crisped to add back in right before serving. The best pancetta we can reliably get here is La Quercia, and it's pre-sliced very thin. Absolutely wonderful recipe, and thank you for sharing it!


about 5 years ago thirschfeld

I am so glad you liked it. An yes I often use a "knob" of butter. That might be my favorite recipe measurement. Yeah I never know about the crispy bacon/pancetta question. I don't like it crunchy but I know lots of others do so I am glad you made it how you like it.


over 5 years ago NakedBeet

I love chowders but I don't like them heavy, either. This looks luscious, thank you for sharing.


over 5 years ago mainecook61

Frustrated by the limitations of a small town grocery store?
Bacon, diced finely, makes a perfectly good substitute for pancetta.
No shallots? Add some more onion or leeks.
Scallops, added to the hot soup to poach just before serving---delicious.
(Little Maine shrimp, now in season, would probably be good, too.)


over 5 years ago maryvelasquez

How great to have a chowder recipe that really has onions take center stage. A nice change from usual onion broth soups. Hearty, but not heavy.


over 5 years ago SaySchwartzAndBeSure

Malpec oysters that is.


over 5 years ago SaySchwartzAndBeSure

I agree with Antonia. This is very similar to my husbands fish chowder with scallops but after we read this he said he would just add fresh Malpec (small and sweet) just at the end when it is resting.


over 5 years ago thirschfeld

I really like that everyone is taking an idea an running with it. So cool. But what is really great is getting to watch the slide show and seeing Amanda and Merrill make my recipe. So so cool. Thanks for all the great compliments too.


over 5 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Just love this soup. I have absolutely everything in the house, too! I see this appearing at our dinner table before the end of the weekend. Thank you for posting!


over 5 years ago ENunn

Yes, this is really gorgeous. So glad you are here thirschfeld.