Archive of BBC Food Recipes

British seaside chowder with saffron

Prep time less than 30 mins
Cook time less than 30 mins
Serves 4
From James Martin: Home Comforts
This quick, simple soup works wonderfully with all sorts of local seafood, so throw in whatever is readily available.


  1. Bring the wine to the boil in a large lidded saucepan. Add the shellfish, cover the pan with the lid, reduce the heat until the wine is simmering, and simmer the shellfish for 3-5 minutes, or until all the shells have opened (discard any that do not open).

  2. Drain the shellfish, reserving the cooking liquor in a bowl. When the shellfish is cool enough to handle, pick the meat from the shells.

  3. Heat the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and fry for 1-2 minutes, or until softened. Add the fennel, leek, potatoes, saffron and star anise and fry for a further 1-2 minutes.

  4. Add the reserved cooking liquor and the chicken stock and bring the mixture to the boil. Reduce the heat until the mixture is simmering and simmer for 3-4 minutes, or until the potato cubes are just tender.

  5. Add the cream and samphire and continue to simmer for 1-2 minutes, or until the soup has thickened slightly. Reduce the heat to low, then add the tomatoes and shellfish meat, including the whelks. Heat until the meat is warmed through.

  6. Stir in the chives and celery leaves, season, to taste, with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper, then serve.


  • 300ml/10½fl oz white wine
  • 1kg/2lb 4oz mixed shellfish, such as cockles, clams, mussels and winkles, cleaned and soaked in cold water
  • 50g/1¾oz unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • ½ leek, white part only, finely chopped
  • 250g/9oz waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into 5mm/¼in cubes
  • 2 pinches saffron strands
  • 1 star anise
  • 500ml/18 fl oz chicken stock
  • 175ml/6fl oz double cream
  • 75g/2½oz samphire
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, skin and seeds removed
  • 12 shelled cooked whelks
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh chives
  • handful celery leaves, finely chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

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