Classic PEI Seafood Chowder with an Italian Twist

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An easy recipe for seafood chowder with sausage and lobster arancini from Chef Erin Henry at Piatto Pizzeria and Enoteca in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

Last month I was invited to judge the chowder competition at the PEI International Shellfish Festival. It is one of the biggest festivals on PEI.

It is also an amazing time of the year to visit. Weather is fantastic and there are no crowds.

And this job was perfect for ME! I grew up eating my grandmother’s Nova Scotia seafood chowder every Friday but in Toronto it’s tough to find any chowder at all, unless Loka is serving this potato mussel chowder recipe.

I love chowder.

In the Maritimes every locals restaurant will have chowder. It’s common to have a cup of chowder and a half sandwich as a lunch option.

But not everywhere has great chowder.  You have to know where to go.

I have no preference over a thick or thin chowder. It’s all about flavour and consistency. So I was so excited to try the best chowder on PEI.

Over two days I tried 16 different chowders, and while in Prince Edward Island I tried 5 more on my own.

Did I mention I love chowder?


Chowder time @peishellfish

A post shared by Erin Henry (@_pizza_pirate) on

Chef Erin Henry has won the competition in previous years.

She’s originally from New Brunswick but has lived on Prince Edward Island for 12 years.

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of Canada, she staged at the Michelin- starred Gravetye Manor, competed in culinary competitions in Europe and now works in Charlottetown.

While she didn’t win I really loved what she did and asked for the recipe.

Chowder is an inexpensive rustic dish that traditionally uses seafood scraps to make a meal at home.

Chowder Mix

In fact, in the Maritimes it’s possible to buy “chowder mix” in the grocery store seafood department.

It’s just a bag of leftover scraps of fish, seafood and if you’re lucky some shrimp or lobster. From there you add the onion, carrots, celery, potato, cream and seasoning.

When I moved to Toronto I searched high and low for seafood chowder mix but none of the fishmongers knew was it was. That can make seafood chowder much more expensive.

Classic PEI seafood chowder with a delicious Italian twist of sausage and lobster arancini.

The presentation is beautiful. It took this rustic dish and gave it a new look that anyone in Toronto would rave about.

And Chef Erin didn’t forget the lobster. It’s in the arancini (fried stuffed rice ball).

While she’s the chef of an Italian restaurant she knows in the Maritimes it’s important to serve seafood chowder with something.

EASY RECIPE: Snow Crab Cakes

At a very basic East Coast restaurant you’ll get saltine crackers or maybe a roll, somewhere a bit nicer will make fresh biscuits. It makes sense at an Italian restaurant you’d get arancini.

This would be incredible at a dinner party to make in advance.


Classic PEI seafood chowder with a delicious Italian twist of sausage and lobster arancini.

PEI Seafood Chowder with an Italian Twist

This recipe is long. Don’t stress out. It’s a long but easy recipe.

Chef Erin was so thorough with the instructions on how to make the arancini.

But you can do this in stages.

Make the risotto, pesto and the first three steps of the chowder the night before.

The next day make the arancini, finish the chowder and serve to guests.


Creamy classic seafood chowder in a white bowl.

Classic Seafood Chowder

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 12 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 42 minutes

An easy recipe for seafood chowder with sausage and lobster arancini from Chef Erin Henry in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb Italian sausage, uncooked
  • 2 large 2 large yellow onions, diced
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, mince
  • 1/2 fennel bulb, diced
  • 3 lbs small new potatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 12 cups whipping cream
  • 3 lbs cooked PEI mussel meat cooking broth reserved
  • 1 lb cooked PEI bar clams cooking broth reserved
  • 1/2 lemon juiced zest half the lemon before juicing and set aside
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • chopped fennel fronds to garnish
  • Lobster arancini to garnish see recipe below
  • sun-dried tomato pesto to garnish see recipe below
  • orange nasturtium flowers (optional)
  • Make the Risotto
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 2 tbsp dry white wine
  • 1 cup 1 cup HOT homemade seafood stock Erin uses fennel, onion, celery, garlic, bay leaves, parsley, peppercorns and halibut bones
  • 1 cup lobster meat, chopped equals 1/2 lb
  • 1/2 cup butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/3 cup Grana Padano, grated or Parmesan if you can't find Grana Padano
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Arancini Breading
  • 1.5 cup flour, seasoned with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • egg wash made with 3 eggs and 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 18 1/2 inch cubes of fresh mozzarella
  • Frying
  • 8 cups canola oil
  • Sundried Tomato Pesto
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 6 leaves fresh basil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Seafood Chowder

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pot. Once hot add sausage, onion, garlic, chili flakes and fennel. Cook, stirring, for 10 minutes, until sausage is cooked through.

Deglaze by pouring white wine into pot and using a wooden spoon to scrape up the bits on the bottom of the pot.

Add potatoes, reserved mussel and clam broth (about 4 cups each) and cream. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, until potatoes are tender and cream begins to thicken.

Just before serving, add mussel and clam meats. Stir in lemon juice and zest and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Garnish with chopped fresh fennel fronds, nasturtium flowers (optional), sun-dried tomatoes and arancini.

Make the Risotto

Heat oil over medium heat in a medium heavy-bottom saucepan. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until translucent. 

Add the rice and stir well to coat the rice in oil.

Add the wine and stir well. Let the wine absorb into the rice before adding more liquid.

Use a ladle to add the hot stock 1/2 cup at a time. Stir constantly and let the liquid absorb into the rice before adding more liquid.

You may use between 400 and 500ml seafood stock, depending on your rice. Keep adding liquid and tasting the rice. Stop adding liquid when the rice is no longer crunchy but still a bit chewy.

Stir in the remaining ingredients (including lobster and grana padano) and let cool completely. Refrigerate overnight if possible.

Form and Fill the Arancini (Filling: 36 x 1cm cubes of lobster)

Form the risotto into 1 1/2 inch balls or use a 1 oz portion scoop to portion the risotto onto a baking sheet.

Use your thumb to make an indentation in each ball, push in a piece of fresh mozzarella and fold the rice around it.

Use your hands to roll the arancini into round balls.


Working in batches of 6, roll the arancini first in flour, then in egg mixture, then in breadcrumbs. Return to the baking sheet.


Heat oil in a deep fryer or dutch oven to 350F. Cook arancini in batches of 6 for 3 minutes each. Keep cooked arancini warm in the oven (150C) while you are cooking the others.

Sundried Tomato Pesto

Blend everything together in a food processor until very smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 Amount Per Serving: Calories: 3218Total Fat: 280gSaturated Fat: 82gTrans Fat: 4gUnsaturated Fat: 188gCholesterol: 534mgSodium: 2243mgCarbohydrates: 94gFiber: 6gSugar: 17gProtein: 85g

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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 Classic PEI seafood chowder with a delicious Italian twist of sausage and lobster arancini.
Classic PEI seafood chowder with a delicious Italian twist of sausage and lobster arancini.

Join the Conversation

  1. I love chowder too! like LOVE. I am definitely adding this to my “to-make” list. I have been on such a soup kick now that the temperatures are starting to drop. You can tell from my page ( that soup is “in” right now! Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Evan Kristine says:

    These food are awesome! So perfect for this coming cold cold months! I will add this for my family menu!!

  3. Thanks for the sea food chowder recipe.. definitely going to try it at my home..I hope I can make it as good as you did.. lol which i doubt. but gotta try 🙂

  4. Heather Smith says:

    I made this chowder for my Mother’s 79th Birthday luncheon. Although I am from P.E.I. I have lived in CO for 33 hrs. Chowder is not something I make living in the mountains! My Mother’s Family is a tough bunch because they know their chowder or they know where to go on the island to get it. This was extra special and impressed this group!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      oh I am so thrilled to hear that!

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