Make Ahead

Three Onion Chowder with Parsleyed Oyster Crackers

February 15, 2010
6 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Serves 4 to 6
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 really does make a difference by allowing the flavors to come together. —thirschfeld

Test Kitchen Notes

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&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 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-inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon Italian parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Parsleyed Oyster Crackers
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup oyster crackers
  • 1 tablespoon Italian parsley, minced
  • Fine sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  1. For the Soup:
  2. In a 3-quart Dutch oven or saucepan, 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, shallots, and celery. Saute until they are just becoming golden. You don't want them to brown too much or the soup will be brown.
  3. Add the leeks, garlic, and thyme. Cook until the leeks are just becoming soft.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 (recipe below) and serve.
  1. Parsleyed Oyster Crackers
  2. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • spicyorganic
  • FrugalCat
  • JG
  • Tina Miller
    Tina Miller
  • Lilismom

47 Reviews

spicyorganic February 4, 2023
This Onion Chowder with Parsleyed Oyster Crackers recipe sounds amazing! The combination of creamy chowder and crispy crackers is a perfect match. I might suggest using organic onion powder from the spicy organic brand as a substitute for the yellow onion for added flavor and to make it even healthier. The use of organic ingredients really elevates this dish, making it both delicious and nutritious. I can't wait to give this recipe a try, I'm sure it will be a hit with my family. Thanks for sharing!
BobB138 December 18, 2017
Making this tonight; smells, tastes great so far.

However --- The recipe needs some editing, i.e. clarifications on quantities.
"2 leeks, rinsed, white parts only, ..." I have an Acme, Whole Foods and local greengrocer nearby. Do you know how much variation there is in a leek? From 1-2" in diameter and 2-5" of "white parts". How about cups or weight measurements?

Same with "3 russet potatoes" - Large, medium or small russets? It needs either a weight or number of cups after being peeled and diced.
Ladsndads78 January 19, 2024
Get a grip 😂😂😂😂
FrugalCat December 15, 2017
This was fabulous even without the pancetta. I will try the corn addition in the summer. I sered with with leftover chicken.
Lynn M. December 14, 2017
Thanks so much...I will definitely try that!
Lynn M. December 14, 2017
I always look longingly at these recipes I am allergic to diary...what can I substitute for the half and half? Please help!
thirschfeld December 14, 2017
I would go with cashew milk
JG July 10, 2017
This chowder is SO SO SO delicious, and I am from New England, the land of delicious chowders, so I know all about it.
Tina M. July 10, 2017
Your comment refreshed this recipe in my feed - helped me remember one of my favorite recipes.
Tina M. July 10, 2017
And this time of year, I usually add some roasted kernels of sweet corn. Can be altered so many ways.
Tina M. October 5, 2015
YUM. This was delicious and easy to make. I lightened it a tad by using 1 1/2 cup half and half and 1/2 cup skim milk. I was out of shallots and the recipe survived, also added some diced celery root just because. This will be in regular rotation !
Ghost H. July 15, 2013
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!
DJH-CT December 29, 2012
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!
Lilismom December 18, 2012
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.
thirschfeld December 18, 2012
thank you so much for your kind words.
Lilismom June 7, 2012
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!
andreoutkast February 9, 2011
Wow made this today and my partner and child loved it look forward to making more from this great site
thirschfeld February 9, 2011
Oh great, I am glad you enjoyed it so much you plan to make it again. That makes my day, thank you.
DonnaOP January 30, 2011
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 -
thirschfeld February 9, 2011
you are very welcome and I am glad you enjoyed it. I think your addition of butternut squash is great.
FifteenForever January 28, 2011
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
thirschfeld January 28, 2011
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.
Amg03102 January 24, 2011
Great recipe! I made it with fat free half & half, and added some small shrimp and it was wonderful. Thanks
thirschfeld January 28, 2011
thank you, the shrimp would be nice.
Crispini January 19, 2011
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.
thirschfeld January 28, 2011
Thank you and I am so glad you like it. Salmon would be to great
Meggie November 24, 2010
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.
thirschfeld November 25, 2010
Thank you and you are welcome. I am so glad everyone enjoyed it
elizabeth627 September 13, 2010
I made this on Saturday and had it for dinner tonight. It was terrific with a lovely balance.
lastnightsdinner March 3, 2010
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!
thirschfeld March 4, 2010
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.
NakedBeet March 2, 2010
I love chowders but I don't like them heavy, either. This looks luscious, thank you for sharing.