The World's 11 Best Fish Soups, Chowders, and Stews

Celebrate National Bouillabaisse day on Dec. 14 with these hearty fish soup, stew, and chowder recipes

The World's 10 Best Fish Soups, Chowders, and Stews

A favorite holiday of seafood-lovers and Francophiles everywhere is coming up on Dec. 14: National Bouillabaisse Day.

Born in the French port city of Marseille, bouillabaisse is a boiled fish soup (bouill meaning “to boil,” and baisse meaning “to reduce”) and is said to have originated as a poor fisherman’s stew.

The fisherman would boil the fish — often the bony fish and scraps they couldn’t sell at market — in aromatics, Provençal herbs, wine, and stock. Interestingly, the dish is now known for its elegance and was made famous in fine dining establishments wherein the broth, made thick with the gelatin inside the fish bones, was brought to the table first with the fish served separately on a platter accompanied by a baguette and a side of rouille, a thick, garlicky sauce made with breadcrumbs, saffron olive oil, and chiles.

Now, it is pretentiously said that a true bouillabaisse can only be created in and around Marseille to achieve the right flavors with the proper ingredients (i.e. fish from the Mediterranean Sea and Provençal-grown herbs). For those of us not lucky enough to be in the Marseille vicinity, here’s a collection of some of our favorite fish soups, including good ol’ American clam chowder, Swedish fisksoppa, and Creole-inspired crawfish stew.

Check it out and celebrate the delicious holiday with a warm bowl of fish soup — whichever variety you are so inclined to make and eat!


A perfect version with which to celebrate National Bouillabaisse Day, this recipe, created by Michelin-starred chef David Myers, is made with sea bass, snapper, fresh shrimp, and mussels and is served with a fresh baguette and a garlicky rouille. 

Click here to see the Bouillabaisse recipe.

Autumn Bouillabaisse

Autumn Bouillabaisse


This rich bouillabaisse proves that pumpkins aren't just for pies. The sweetness of the pumpkin enhances the stew built with halibut, shrimp, and scallops. Turmeric and tomatoes give the soup a lovely burnt orange color, and the fennel, parsley, and lemon add a bright freshness to balance the flavors.

Click here to see the Autumn Bouillabaisse recipe.

Clam Chowder

Classic clam chowder, made hearty with bacon and potatoes, is wonderfully comforting and will warm you up on even the coldest winter nights.

Click here to see the Clam Chowder recipe.

Crawfish Stew With Cinnamon and Star Anise

Sweet, spicy notes of cinnamon and star anise infuse the broth in this crawfish stew. Garnish with fresh herbs and kick up the heat with tobasco, as desired.

Click here for the Crawfish With Cinnamon and Star Anise recipe.

Creole Fish Stew

Creole Fish Stew


This seafood stew captures the flavors of a New Orleans jambalaya with a streamlined method combining classic Creole seasonings, a fragrant roux, mild white fish, clams, crawfish, and even a bit of spicy sausage. It’s best served with good crusty bread and a fruity white wine to contrast the heat.

Click here to see the Creole Fish Stew recipe.

Holiday Cioppino

This is a simplified version of the classic Italian seafood stew. The vegetable base can be made ahead of time and frozen. When ready to serve, simply thaw and stir in the fish, crab, shrimp, and clams to finish cooking.

Click here to see the Holiday Cioppino recipe.

Mediterranean Fish Stew With Chard

Made with tilapia and shrimp, this tasty stew, served with crisp bread slices and garnished with fennel fronds, makes an elegant meal that can be prepared in under 30 minutes.

Click here to see the Mediterranean Fish Stew With Chard recipe.

Seafood Soup With Kale and Potatoes

Seafood Soup With Kale and Potatoes


This seafood soup is light yet satisfying with large pieces of halibut, fresh scallops, small new potatoes, and thinly sliced kale.

Click here to see the Seafood Soup With Kale and Potatoes recipe.

Salmon Chowder

Made just like classic clam chowder, this recipe substitutes the clams for fresh salmon. This scrumptious chowder is a delicious way to get more omega-3s into your diet.

Click here to see the Salmon Chowder recipe.

Shrimp Bouillabaisse

This bouillabaisse recipe claims to deliver all the thrills of a traditional bouillabaisse, but instead of using several different varieties of seafood, the shrimp brings all the flavor.

Click here to see the Shrimp Bouillabaisse recipe.

Swedish Fish Soup

Called Svenska fisksoppa in its native land, this scrumptious soup is surprisingly easy to make despite its lengthy ingredient list. Salmon and cod are the primary ingredients and are enhanced by fresh herbs, crème fraîche, and white wine.

Click here to see the Swedish Fish Soup (Svenska Fisksoppa) recipe.