This Portuguese fish chowder is sorta like a blending of the best characteristics of chowder, stew, and soup. So you can embrace your creamy chowders all you want. But this aromatic amalgam of sausage, potatoes, and fish may convince you otherwise. So don’t be so certain that you don’t prefer tomato-y chowders until you try it.Renee Schettler Rossi

A brown ceramic bowl filled with Portuguese fish chowder, made with fish, potatoes, chouriço, tomatoes, and cilantro.

Portuguese Fish Chowder

5 / 6 votes
This Portuguese fish chowder is a tomato-based combo of stew and soup and chowder made of fish, potatoes, chorizo, also known as chouriço, and peppers that’s a time-honored classic in Portugal.
David Leite
CuisineNew England
Servings8 servings
Calories341 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 45 minutes
Total Time2 hours 15 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves (1 tablespoon) garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 medium onions, cut into 3/4-inch (18-mm) dice
  • 1 6 oz green bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) dice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold, Maine, PEI, or other all-purpose potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/3 inch (8 mm) thick
  • 4 cups fish stock, as a last resort, water
  • 2 cups (from a 28-ounce or 795-g can) canned whole tomatoes in juice, cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) dice (measured with their juice)
  • 6 ounces spicy chouriço or andouille sausage, casing removed and sliced 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds skinless silver hake, cod, haddock, or bass fillets, pinbones removed
  • 10 sprigs fresh cilantro, leaves and tender stems finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves


  • Heat a 4- to 6-quart heavy pot over medium heat and add the olive oil and bay leaves. As soon as the bay leaves begin to turn brown, add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until golden, 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Add the onions, bell pepper, and allspice and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions and peppers are softened but not browned, about 8 minutes.
  • Add the potatoes and stock; if the stock doesn’t cover the potatoes, add just enough water to cover them. Turn up the heat, bring to a boil, cover, and cook vigorously until they’re soft on the outside yet still firm in the center, about 6 to 10 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to medium, add the tomatoes and sausage, and simmer for 5 minutes. Season assertively with salt and pepper.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: You want the chowder to be sufficiently seasoned now so you don’t have to stir it again later, after the fish has been added, or fish will fall apart.

  • Add the whole fish fillets and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, gently stir in the cilantro, and let the chowder sit for 10 minutes. The fish will finish cooking during this time.
  • Let the fish sit for up to an hour at room temperature to let the flavors meld. (You can let the chowder cool, cover, and refrigerate it for up to 1 day.)
  • When ready to serve, reheat the chowder over low heat, being careful not to let it boil. Use a slotted spoon to mound the chunks of fish, the chouriço, tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes in the center of large soup plates or shallow bowls, and ladle the tomato broth over. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve immediately.
50 Chowders Cookbook

Adapted From

50 Chowders

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 341 kcalCarbohydrates: 26 gProtein: 30 gFat: 13 gSaturated Fat: 3 gMonounsaturated Fat: 6 gTrans Fat: 0.1 gCholesterol: 109 mgSodium: 652 mgFiber: 4 gSugar: 4 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2000 Jasper White. Photo © 2000 Gentl & Hyers. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This recipe makes a delicious, flavorful fish chowder and is pretty much a complete meal in a bowl (very “trendy” these days!) The starch from the potatoes adds a luscious creaminess to the broth and the dish cries out to be eaten with a spoon so that you get a little bit of everything, including the broth, in each mouthful.

The potatoes took 6 to 8 minutes. Overcooking them will make them fall apart. My potatoes were fully cooked at the end and held their shape perfectly.

Reheated leftovers are very tasty, but should be consumed within 1 to 2 days.

This is comforting and soothing, very straightforward, and easy to do in advance. Great midweek tasty dinner.

I thought the allspice could have been increased in this. That’s personal taste, of course, but I could have doubled it at least.

I used Albert Bartlett Rooster potatoes. The timings for the potatoes are crucial. It was lovely to end up with tender potatoes still holding their shape, having absorbed all the delicious flavors. I served it with crusty bread. Though it really didn’t need any more carbohydrates with it, but was nice to mop up the juices at the end.

This actually only served 4 people for us, not 8. We were hungry! We had bread at the end to mop up the juices.

I left it standing for about an hour and when it was time to eat, I gently reheated it. This worked very well.

I happened to be on vacation in Portugal when I saw this recipe! Even more coincidentally, I had eaten a version of this dish the previous evening. I was very excited to now have a recipe to recreate at home.

I used cod to make this, finding wild-caught frozen fillets at my local grocery store. I did all of the prepping of the ingredients before getting going, as the cooking process is pretty fast. That made it easy to pull together.

The inclusion of the chorizo sausage really kicks up the spice level and blends well with the cod. The broth is really flavorful and the potatoes perfectly tender.

We really enjoyed this for dinner, serving some crusty bread along side to mop up some of the delicious broth.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

Hungry For More?

Homemade Portuguese Chouriço

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    David, this fish stew is amazing. I was a little skeptical of the allspice, but I followed your recipe exactly, and it’s just perfect! I cook meals for my 97-year-old Tia, and I know she’s going to love it as much as I do. YUM!

    1. Liza, I’m so delighted that you enjoyed the dish. It is magical, isn’t it? And I hope you Tia likes it, too!!!

  2. 5 stars
    The recipe was wonderful. Thank you for all the Portuguese recipes that you have posted. I also have enjoyed the recipes from your cookbook, “The New Portuguese Table”.