Recipe courtesy of Carla Hall

San Francisco-Inspired Mussel Chowder

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 35 min
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 2 servings
Since chowder is a regional dish, it’s not surprising there are many variations to choose from. My version is based on one I tasted at a restaurant by the waterfront in the Bay Area, which consisted of fresh clams cooked in a velvety, creamy sauce with potatoes and bacon. Since I love mussels, I decided to use them instead of clams. If you really want the full San Francisco experience, remove the mussels from their shells, stir the meat back into the chowder and serve in a sourdough bread bowl.



  1. Cook the bacon in a large deep skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until crispy, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels, reserving the drippings in the skillet.
  2. Cook the scallions in the reserved bacon drippings over medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened. Place the minced garlic on your board and sprinkle with a generous pinch of kosher salt, then use the side of a chef's knife to scrape into a paste. Add the garlic, thyme and lemon peel strips and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add the fish stock and potatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a pinch of white pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are just tender, about 5 minutes. 
  3. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the mussels, cover and cook until the mussels have opened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard any mussels that have not opened.
  4. Return the pan to the heat and simmer until the liquid is slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and lemon juice. Top the mussels with the cooked bacon and extra sliced scallions. 
  5. Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush the baguette slices with a little olive oil, then add to the grill pan and cook until golden brown, 2 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and rub with the whole garlic clove. Served the mussels with the grilled bread.