Crab and Corn Chowder - New England-style Chowder with Crabmeat

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Crab and Corn Chowder - New England-style Chowder with Crabmeat

Sweet corn, smoked bacon, potatoes, and cream are classic New England-style soup bases.

Lobster, clams, or scallops would be my go-to seafood where I live in Massachusetts, but I decided to look further south into crab country and was not disappointed.

Although Maryland crab bisque or chowder often includes tomato, I stick with my favorite New England-style soup for this recipe; it's a template for just about any shellfish you decide to include.

The crab adds sweetness to the already rich and creamy soup, packed with corn, potatoes, and bacon—enough to make a hearty meal in its own right.

What is Chowder?

The soup is typically a stew made with potatoes and cream, but there are many regional types of soup.

Clams, fish, lobster, scallops, mixed shellfish, shrimp, chicken, and corn are typical variations.

It's a hearty, creamy soup that can be thick and comforting. (Manhattan clam chowder is tomato-based, making it an exception to the cream rule.)

The best crab for soup

Crab meat is normally sold in plastic containers in the refrigerated seafood section of the market.

Meat is fully cooked, steamed, or boiled, and is usually pasteurized to kill bacteria and extend its shelf life.

If you can find freshly harvested (unpasteurized) crabmeat, do so, but it's not that commonly available.

If you can find fresh or frozen crab meat, this is another option.

You have a few options when choosing crab meat: jumbo, lump, and backfin, all of which are large chunks.

Flake is exactly what you would expect, with smaller pieces of crab meat. Claw meat has a slightly brownish color and a different texture, but it is also delicious.

In this recipe, I used a combination of crab meat and claw meat for variety, and I was happy with the result.

Tips for Making Crab and Corn Soup

  • Use chicken broth for the broth. It's a trick I learned from a French chef, and even though you're making a seafood soup, it adds a flavor that's not overly fishy, but flavorful and delicious.
  • To balance the sweetness of the crabmeat and corn, you'll need a bit of acidity. Lemon juice and white wine provide this.
  • Be sure to use sour cream. Sour cream has enough fat to keep the soup from curdling when you cook it with wine or lemon juice.
  • We love this simple tip for getting corn kernels off the cob. I also like this handy tool for husking corn.
  • If corn is not in season, use good quality frozen corn. No need to defrost.

How to Store and Freeze Chowder

Storage in the refrigerator: Pour the hot soup into containers and allow it to cool for about 20 minutes (small containers cool faster than the whole pot). Refrigerate for up to 3 days and reheat on the stove or in the microwave.

Freezer Storage: Creamy soups can have a grainy texture when frozen, so freeze the soup before adding the cream and add it when you reheat the soup. Fill bowls with soup without cream, leaving 1-inch headspace to allow soup to expand. Allow to cool completely before covering with a lid. Freeze up to 4 months.

To reheat, place the frozen soup in a saucepan with a thin layer of water in the bottom to prevent burning.

Cover the saucepan and bring to low heat. Make sure you bring it to a boil and let it cook for at least 1 minute. Add sour cream and heat again.


  • 4 slices of thick bacon (4 ounces), cut into thin strips
  • 1 large leek, sliced and halved lengthwise, thinly sliced into half moons
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine
  • 2 red potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups corn kernels (about 3 ears of fresh corn)
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen crab meat
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, or more to taste
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (2 tablespoons or more to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


Cook the bacon, leeks and celery:

In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook and stir the bacon until the fat is melted and just beginning to brown, about 3 minutes.

Add the leeks, celery, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until just tender, 3 more minutes.

Add the wine, potatoes and broth:

Add the wine and stir, until it boils. Add the diced potatoes and chicken broth to the pot and bring to a boil.

Cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

Finish cooking the soup:

Add the corn to the pan and cook for 3 minutes. Add the crab meat and cream and cook for another 3 minutes, or until the soup is hot.

Mix lemon juice and parsley. Taste and add more salt, pepper, and lemon juice if needed. Attend.

Store chilled leftover soup in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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