Dairy Free Fish Chowder



I’m allergic to shellfish. This is somewhat tragic, as I come from Wellfleet, MA, home of the world famous Wellfleet Oyster. That’s right, I’m originally a “Wellfleetian”.


When I was a kid, I could eat shellfish, but at some point, in my 20s, I became allergic to most types of shellfish. I first discovered this while out to dinner with my then-boyfriend, now-husband, Adam, at an Italian restaurant in the East Village in NY. I ordered a spicy seafood/shellfish soup, and promptly broke out in total body hives.

I am also allergic to several types of fish. I am allergic to Halibut, Trout, and to a lesser extent, Salmon. That I know of. I say “that I know of”, because you never know when you might have developed a new allergy when you are a food allergic individual. Always proceed with caution. What I do know, however, is that so far, I can still eat Cod, Haddock, Flounder, Tuna, Bluefish, Mahi Mahi, Anchovies, and Sardines.

And this is where I say, “DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME, FOLKS!” If you have shellfish or fish allergies, don’t go trying this recipe willy-nilly without guidance from your allergist. I know, through a lot of trial and error, that there are certain fish that I don’t have a reaction to. For whatever reason, I’m allergic to the trout/salmon family’s protein, but not the protein in cod and haddock, etc. I know this from many years of very careful experimentation, always with an epi-pen nearby.

I really hate to exclude anyone in the Food Allergy Community with one of my recipes, so forgive me, fish allergic people. This following recipe is not for you. And I never do this. I have a mandate to write recipes that exclude ALL THE TOP FOOD ALLERGENS responsible for 90% of food allergies. This one just slipped through the cracks, for once. But I have a reason… let me tell you why….

I am sitting here on Cape Cod, and I am reading the news. The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has now made it to Texas. It is forecast to travel up the entire east coast of the US as a kind of plume, whipping through the Atlantic Ocean. And killing our fish. The fishing community, here on Cape Cod, (and everywhere else, I’m sure) are literally overwhelmed with sadness and fear. We don’t know if we’ll still have fish in our waters next summer. And so, people are eating as much locally sourced, still-healthy seafood as possible. To go out in style, so to speak. And I, who usually forgo it, am also giving it a last hurrah. I hope they’re wrong in their projections about where that oil plume will travel, but if they’re not, I don’t ever want to think that I missed the last summer that we still had lovely safe Cod, on Cape Cod.


This recipe is really an Ode to the lovely fish of Cape Cod. May they continue to swim in good health! Makes 8 Servings

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced fine
  • 3 large stalks celery, with leaves, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • big pinch of dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons parsley flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 large Yukon Gold potato, skin on, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 ear of fresh corn
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 8 cups fish stock (Kitchen Basics “Seafood Stock” is Shellfish-Free and Gluten-Free; see their allergen-statement)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2-3 cups leftover cooked Cod Fish, and/or Haddock, and/or Flounder, flaked or cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk, or rice milk (or heavy cream, if you can eat dairy)
  • pinch of saffron
  • gluten-free toast spears (optional)

1. Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat. Add diced onions and garlic, and cook, stirring often, about 3 minutes, until onions have softened a bit. Add celery and carrots, cooking a few minutes more, until starting to soften. Add thyme, parsley, bay leaves, cayenne, and cook stirring until aromatic, about 2 minutes.

2. Increase heat to medium-high heat, and add white wine. Cook stirring, about 3 minutes, until reduced slightly. Add cubed potato, stirring to combine. Cut corn kernels off of cobs and add to pot. Add peppercorns. Cover all with fish stock, add salt, and few grindings of fresh pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Crumble in the saffron. Cook at a simmer, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes, until potato is softened. Add bell pepper, and fish, stirring gently to combine. Simmer about 15 minutes, until bell pepper is tender. Taste broth, and adjust salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper, to taste.

3. Add coconut milk (or rice milk, or heavy cream), and heat through until piping hot, without letting it boil. Ladle into bowls, and garnish with a couple of gluten-free toast spears, if you like. This soup is even more delicious day two, so don’t fret the leftovers!

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free Fish Chowder © 2010 by Cybele Pascal

For a great dessert to follow this recipe, Check out my new recipe for GLUTEN-FREE VEGAN BLUEBERRY BREAD PUDDING

SAFETY NOTE: Because each person’s food sensitivity and reaction is unique, ranging from mild intolerance to life-threatening and severe food allergies, it is up to the consumer to monitor ingredients and manufacturing conditions. If manufacturing conditions, potential cross contact between foods, and ingredient derivatives pose a risk for you, please re-read all food labels and call the manufacturer to confirm potential allergen concerns before consumption. Ingredients and manufacturing practices can change overnight and without warning.

11 Responses

  1. What a great way to show support for local fishing. I know what you mean about developing allergies to shellfish as an adult. It came out of nowhere, but lucky me, still can eat every kind of fish and I love chowders.

    • cybele pascal says:

      I grew up going to “The Blessing of the Fleet” every year, where the Bishop would bless the fishing boats. The year round community here on Cape Cod is so heavily dependent on the fishing industry. I really don’t know what will happen if that is no longer possible. I wish there was something more to do about this oil spill, than sit and watch with horror.

      Thanks for your comment.



  2. Alisa says:

    That is just so sad. Hopefully it doesn’t happen this way, but in the mean time enjoy the fish that is safe for you! I do like Cod. Mmmm

    • cybele pascal says:

      I know, Alisa. Trying to be optimistic. Thanks for your comment! I’m happy you’re reading my blog!

  3. Susan Eve Jacobs Corria says:

    What a great recipe,and it’s is so sad ,but true. Thank you from a non meat eating person,I love my fish!!!!!!!!! I don’t know what I would do if we no longer had any left.

  4. Moose says:

    Sorry to hear that you’re shellfish allergy extends to some of the best tasting fish available. However, if you can eat sardines, you might be able to tolerate mackerel.

    Thank you for the chowder recipe. I’ll try it out over the weekend.

  5. Tammy says:

    This came at the absolute perfect time! We just got home from camping on the Oregon coast and bought about 45 lbs of albacore tuna. (off the docks) We plan to can and smoke it, but it might be tasty in soup as well. We have just within minutes ago talked about supporting our fisherman, they have had some really rough times over the past 10 years. We plan to go back in August when they will have salmon, and hopefully will be able to support these guys more.

    I hate what the BP spill has done to the gulf and the fishermen down there, it is sickening.

  6. Leela says:

    I was very sorry to hear about the BP and the oil spill.
    I was wondering if you had any recommendations for restaurants in Cape Cod – for my allergy 4 year old daughter? She is vegan, and can’t have soy, eggs, nuts, sesame, pine nuts.
    Thanks, Leela

  7. Lorraine says:

    This sounds like a great recipe. I have ibs and avoid dairy especially milk so I use rice milk alot in my recipes. This one sounds great except for the corn. I have diverticulosis as well and was told I cannot eat corn becaasue it is difficult to digest. Will it make much of a difference if I eliminate the corn? I can’t wait to try this recipe. Thank you.


  8. I appreciate your sense of humour with your blogs.

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