On the menu today is this pretty amazing gluten-free Seafood Chowder! Tomorrow, October 19, is actually National Bisque Day but I don’t have a bisque recipe for you. When people go on and on about their love of bisques, honestly, all I can think of is chowder.
While I know that many love bisques for their rich and creamy texture, I actually far prefer a thick and chunky chowder that’s chock full of seafood, meat, and/or vegetables. Chowders can still be rich and creamy and today’s recipe definitely is both!
As most of you know, my gfe approach for eating gluten free is to seek out naturally gluten-free foods and meals or ones where I can make a quick substitution or adaptation. When eating dairy free, my approach remains the same.
Today’s dairy free and gluten-free Seafood Chowder recipe is a good example of both my gfe ways and my dairy free easily (dfe) approach. For either gfe or dfe, I’m not interested in stocking up on lots of specialty products. I like to rely on what’s in my pantry all the time, which I consider to be my actual pantry plus my refrigerator and freezer.I always have coconut milk or almond milk on hand to use as my dairy-free milk and usually, oil (olive, avocado, or grapeseed) to meet the fat/shortening requirement. Plus, I do typically use organic butter, but non-dairy butter and oils such as those listed above can work just fine when making this recipe and others.
So, when my friend Linda (formerly Gluten-Free Homemaker) set the theme of Seasonal Soups for this month’s Go Ahead Honey It’s Gluten Free Carnival, my thoughts went to chowder with those dfe ingredients in mind. Specifically, I thought of Chicken Corn Chowder and Tuna Chowder (a recipe from The Tightwad Gazette).
Again, I like chowders A LOT. I think they’re perfect cold-weather fare.
I’ve already shared my Quick and Easy New England Clam Chowder, which is both gluten free and dairy free, here. That recipe was based on another favorite in the gfe household—Baked Potato Soup. And while we love Chicken Corn Chowder, that recipe is shared fairly often online. However, I’ve never seen Tuna Chowder shared, so I decided to share that seasonal soup—with a Seafood Chowder variation.
I found the original version of this Tuna Chowder recipe in The Tightwad Gazette newsletter of May 1994. Yes, long ago. FYI—The original recipe is also included in the overall compilation, The Complete Tightwad Gazette, of Amy Dacyczyn’s great, but long-ceased newsletters.
I shared the recipe with my good friend, Lisa, and she made it before I had a chance to try it. The original called for a cup of cheese, but Lisa tasted it before and after adding the cheese and said that the cheese really didn’t add much flavor or color appeal to the chowder (the carrots alone add a lovely golden orange hue).
Now how often does that happen that cheese is not needed? Not often per my experience, but score one for the dairy-free set!
Lisa also added potatoes, which just makes sense for any chowder recipe, plus, potatoes can often add extra thickness and creaminess to dishes—another plus for those who are dairy free. I often use your basic garden-variety Russet potatoes in this chowder (which as it turns out are actually full of antioxidants) but this recipe is also really lovely when made with Yukon Gold potatoes. Their creamy texture and golden color only serve to enhance this Seafood Chowder.
The original recipe made more of a soup and, again, I wanted a chowder so I reduced the milk amount.
We eat tuna, but not every day and sometimes not even once a week because of mercury concerns. However, if you don’t eat tuna at all, you can substitute canned or fresh salmon (or another fish of your choice).
The rest of the ingredients in this soup are also ones that I always have on hand and, hopefully, you do, too. And you can leave it as tuna chowder or you can turn this recipe into Seafood Chowder. While I enjoy it as tuna chowder, Mr. GFE thinks the tuna flavor alone is too strong and he’s a tuna fan, so please keep that in mind if you are not.
To make him happy, I often add in up to a pound of shrimp and two strips of bacon. Oh, the sacrifices a dutiful wife must make! Haha.
Mr. GFE’s assessment of my latest gluten-free Seafood Chowder … “absolutely delicious … put this on the menu and that’s all they’ll order. How can you beat seafood soup?” Indeed.
Gluten-Free Seafood Chowder Recipe
I used tuna packed in olive oil, so I drained the olive oil from the can into the skillet and added 2 tablespoons of butter before sautéing carrots and onions. One can use other thickeners like arrowroot, cornstarch, tapioca, potato flakes, or just “cook down” longer over low heat until sauce is reduced/chowder is thickened. Finally, like any other soup I make, I’m always game to add in little bits of “this and that” from the refrigerator. This time it was one cup of brown rice. Potatoes and rice together might seem like too much, but the combination worked just fine and the instant thickness put this chowder on the table faster than usual.
I used tuna packed in olive oil, so I drained the olive oil from the can into the skillet and added 2 tablespoons of butter before sautéing carrots and onions.
One can use other thickeners like arrowroot, cornstarch, tapioca, potato flakes, or just “cook down” longer over low heat until sauce is reduced/chowder is thickened.
Finally, like any other soup I make, I’m always game to add in little bits of “this and that” from the refrigerator. This time it was one cup of brown rice. Potatoes and rice together might seem like too much, but the combination worked just fine and the instant thickness put this chowder on the table faster than usual.
Some of my favorites are the following, but this is not all-inclusive list:
If none of those appeal to you, be sure to check out my Bountiful Bread Basket series (kickoff post with all the links here) for many more bread options. It includes gorgeous loaves of bread (some of which are made can be made in your bread machine), glorious dinner rolls and biscuits, irresistible focaccia and flatbread, and much more.
Originally published March 26, 2011; updated October 18, 2023.