PEI Potato Mussel Chowder

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A chef’s recipe for potato mussel chowder recipe. It’s easy to make, but not diet friendly. Yet no one will care because it’s so good.

Mussel chowder is synonymous with Prince Edward Island on the East Coast of Canada. 

Many people think of the East coast as one homogenous region it couldn’t be more wrong.

Yes it’s a tiny population.

In fact Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia share one area code. But they do not share the same chowder recipe.

I still make my grandmother’s Nova Scotia seafood chowder but it doesn’t include mussels.

This mussel chowder recipe is unique to Prince Edward Island – a small island where there are a significant number of locals who have never left.

Charlene's Bayside chowder is considered one of the best restaurants in Cape Breton. Here is a whole lobster claw in a cup of chowder

Fish Soup vs Chowder

Every great seaside town around the world has some kind of fisherman’s stew, in Peru there’s sudado, in Bahia there’s a Brazilian shrimp soup and of course Italy has cioppino,

But chowder is different. Chowders almost always use milk or cream.

Although I have no idea why the Manhattan clam chowder or Bermuda fish chowder are labeled chowder.

Without cream it’s really a clam soup. I guess every rule needs its exceptions.

There are few dishes that I could call Canadian food but chowder is such a stamp in my childhood I would call it the dish of the Maritimes.

Chowder is serious on the East Coast. A restaurant has a very difficult time answering to locals if it’s not on the menu.

Most cafes serve it and and there’s almost always an option for a cup vs a bowl. If you’re like my mother you’ll always choose the cup of chowder and 1/2 sandwich combo.

It is such a a staple growing up although I fear the tradition of making it at home is dying with our grandparents.

It was one of the first things I learned to make in university, I simply needed to pick up “chowder mix” in the seafood section of our grocery store.

Chowder mix is simply fish and seafood scraps but these scraps make it affordable.  

When I first moved to Toronto I searched far and wide for chowder mix but it does not exist here.

Mussel chowder is a traditional favorite on Prince Edward Island. Here's an award-winning Chef recipe.

Origins of Mussel Chowder

No one seems to know where the term chowder came from.

Wikipedia appears to have the most logical guess that evolved from the thick fish soup chaudrée (sometimes spelled chauderée).

It is a type of thick fish soup from from the coast of France.

This makes sense as the East coast was first settled by the French and many of our traditional dishes are French influenced.

In the Maritimes chowder is fish, seafood or both with potatoes, celery, carrot and onions.

It’s really quite simple.

I have never seen clams or corn in a chowder seems to be more a New England style chowder.

I’m a traditionalist but the idea of corn in my chowder makes me shudder.

EASY RECIPE: Snow Crab Cakes

Although I grew up on chowder it was an everyday version, usually made with 2% milk.

At Christmas my sister proclaimed at Christmas Dave ruined her forever. No chowder was as good as his.

The secret is a lot of butter, cream and pancetta.

You can modify the recipe to not use pancetta for pescatarians. It’s still great but really the pancetta takes it to the next level. Remember bacon is magic.

This is such an easy dish for entertaining as you can make it in advance.

Pro tip: if you’re going to reheat the chowder wait to add the cooked mussels. Otherwise they may overcook and lose firmness.

Don’t forget chowder needs carbs. Serve buttermilk biscuits, great bread rolls or go retro diner style and give everyone a pack of saltine crackers.

If you’re serving wine a traditional chardonnay pairs well with the creaminess of chowder or you could balance it with a sauvignon blanc that has a mineral, grassy finish.

Mussel chowder is a traditional favorite on Prince Edward Island. Here's an indulgent award-winning Chef recipe.

PEI Potato Mussel Chowder

I love this mussel chowder recipe because it’s simple and inexpensive but so decadent and filling.

You will not walk away from a bowl of mussel chowder wishing you had more.

If anything you’ll wish you had more room in your stomach.

My grandmother passed a few years ago but stamped in my memory is Friday chowder in bowls with mug handles on them and brightly coloured balloons.

But what makes me smile the most is that my grandmother didn’t like recipes to change so even though this mussel chowder is incredible, I know she’d turn her nose up at it.

Mussel Chowder

Potato Mussel Chowder

Yield: 10 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Creamy mussel chowder from the East Coast.


  • 3 lbs mussels
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 3 sprigs thyme fresh
  • 1/4 lb pancetta small diced
  • 3 large carrots small diced
  • 4 stalks celery small diced
  • 2 medium onions small diced
  • 4 large potatoes medium diced
  • 1 lb butter unsalted
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 lb haddock cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 L whole milk
  • 1 L heavy cream 35%
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp chives chopped


  1. Wash and scrub mussels free of beards and dirt.
  2. Add mussels to large pot with white wine, garlic and thyme. Steam for 5-7 minutes or until all mussels are open.
  3. Strain mussels from pot saving every drop of the mussel broth.
  4. Shuck mussels from shell and keep chilled, discard any mussels that don’t open.
  5. In a large heavy bottom pot, add pancetta and begin to cook over medium heat to release fat. 6. Add carrots, celery and onions to pot and sweat for 3-5 mins.
  6. Add potatoes and cook for additional 3 minutes.
  7. Add butter and melt completely.
  8. Add flour and mix to create a roux. Cook roux until it smells like toasted butter about 3-5 mins.
  9. Add the mussel broth and whisk to break up the roux.
  10. Add milk and cream and continue whisk over med heat to cook roux and remove any flour flavour.
  11. Reduce heat to low and cook for 30 mins to cook vegetables all the way through, stirring every few minutes to avoid scorching.
  12. When chowder has thickened add mussels and haddock into chowder
  13. Season to taste and finish with chopped chives and other greens. Enjoy!
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 14 Serving Size: 1 Amount Per Serving: Calories: 864Total Fat: 63gSaturated Fat: 38gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 211mgSodium: 340mgCarbohydrates: 46gFiber: 3gSugar: 12gProtein: 26g

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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Traditional Nova Scotia Chowder

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Mussel chowder is a traditional favorite on Prince Edward Island. Here's an award-winning Chef recipe.

Join the Conversation

  1. Looks soooo good! Definitely going to give this a try.

    1. EastBaygrown says:

      Italians have zuppa di pesce, Cioppino is a west coast dish particular to San Francisco.


    Recipe saved for the next time we buy mussels! I agree that ‘bacon is magic!’ will be making it with the pancetta for sure.

  3. Sean@Diversivore says:

    The first time I ever had chowder was in a little community hall in Peggy’s Cove. It was incredible, yet frustrating in hindsight. This homemade and local chowder kind of spoiled me for all of the cheaper (and more ubiquitous) versions out there. But I’ve gotta say, this makes me genuinely excited – it looks amazing, and it is wonderfully simple. I think it’s time I dive in and start making chowder like this myself so that I can truly experience that incredible flavour again. Plus pancetta. Because yes, bacon is magic. 😉 And maybe I’ll cook my way through a few variations too – as you point out, there are all kinds of interesting differences!

  4. George Caswell says:

    That looks absolutely incredible. I must try this. Thanks.

  5. Taj Mahal Tour says:

    Stunning Photos!

  6. This sounds so good. Can’t wait to try it!

  7. What a stunning looking soup! I just took part in a soup exchange, so my freezer is full at the moment…but I would really love to give this soup a try. As with any kind of chowder, saltines are a must!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Absolutely with full fat cream it freezes quite well.

    2. Ayngelina Author says:

      I would love to do a soup exchange, what an awesome idea.

  8. Justine | says:

    What a beautiful and delicious sounding dish, perfect for this time of year! And thanks for the lesson on Fish Soup vs Chowder — very interesting. I haven’t yet visited our Canadian east coast but it’s definitely on my bucket list. Have a great week!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You will find lots of chowder on the East Coast but do yourself a favour and go in the summer or fall. Winters are brutal.

  9. I have to maintain my weight….But this Looks tasty….. I have to try this. Thanks for the post. Very Informative , Loved it:)

  10. Milena | Craft Beering says:

    I just came across your gorgeous chowder at Girl Heart Food. Love all the ingredients and luckily today’s high is only 59 degrees F (great respite from the 100 degree days we’ve been having). Looks like we’ll be able to have mussels chowder for dinner tonight (will need to replace the haddock with cod, but think it will be OK)! I love it when things line up perfectly:) Pinned!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I’m so happy to hear that! And absolutely cod is a great choice.

  11. I think there needs to be a correction made to the recipe where it says “1 lb butter unsalted”
    and “1 lb all-purpose flour”. Photo looks yummy though.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Hi LJ, this is the correct amount of flour and butter. Is that what you were concerned about?

  12. Are they the right quantities? I’m reading 2 litres of whole milk and 1 litre of double cream for 4 people? That’s 5000 calories without the pound of butter…

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yes you’ve read that right, this is a restaurant recipe and mussel chowder is very rich – definitely not something you’d want to eat daily but it’s meant to be decadent.
      Growing up in Nova Scotia we had seafood chowder every Friday and this one is a bit lighter on calories –

  13. Do you cook the haddock before you add it to the chowder at the end?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      No the pieces of haddock cook as you do your final seasoning. It prevents the fish from overcooking.

  14. I did make this for lunch yesterday. I added some Shrimp and Smoked Sablefish along with the Mussels, and it turned out great! Served it with whole grain crackers. I did cut the recipe to serve two….my husband had seconds!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Oh I’m so thrilled to hear it.

  15. My family loves mussels so I’m always looking for new simple delicious recipes and this recipe did not disappoint! It was so easy to make & packed with some many flavours. Thanks for this, its a keeper!

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