Smoky Oyster Chowder with Bacon, Rosemary and Fennel


This velvety chowder from chef Dylan Fultineer is thickened with a classic flour-and-butter roux. He packs it with plump oysters and tender fingerling potatoes, and adds a kick of heat from dried red chiles. For extra flavor, he uses bacon from Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams in Tennessee, which is famous for its intense smokiness. Slideshow: Great Chowder Recipes 

Smoky Oyster Chowder with Bacon, Rosemary and Fennel
Photo: © Marcus Nilsson
Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
8 to 10


  • 4 ounces smoky bacon, such as Benton’s (See Note), cut into 1-by- 1/4- inch matchsticks

  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary

  • 2 dried red chiles, stemmed and broken

  • 4 small celery ribs, finely chopped

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 1 fennel bulb, finely chopped

  • 2 quarts fish stock or 1 quart bottled clam broth with 1 quart of water

  • 1 stick unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 pound fingerling potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch rounds

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

  • Salt

  • Freshly ground pepper

  • 1 pint freshly shucked oysters with their liquor

  • Tabasco, for serving


  1. In a large pot, cook the bacon over moderately high heat, stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Pour out all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat in the pot. Add the rosemary and chiles to the pot and cook for 1 minute. Add the celery, onion and fennel and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the fish stock and bring to a simmer.

  2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the roux is the color of peanut butter, about 5 minutes. Scrape the roux into the soup and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and simmer until tender and the soup has thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cream, season with salt and pepper and return to a simmer.

  3. Add the oysters and bacon to the soup and simmer until the oysters are just cooked, about 3 minutes. Spoon the chowder into deep bowls and serve with Tabasco.

Make Ahead

The recipe can be made through Step 2 and refrigerated overnight. Return to a simmer before proceeding.


Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams are available at

Suggested Pairing

This incredibly fragrant chowder could easily overpower white wines that don’t have enough acidity. Pour a zippy Muscadet from France’s coastal Loire Valley.

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