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Smokey Seared Scallop Chowder

This pescetarian-style chowder brings plump seared sea scallops to your bowl with a hint of smokiness from smoked paprika and crispy smokey croutons.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Orca Bay's sea scallops
  • 2 TBSP + 1 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 rib of celery, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced (white and light green part only)
  • 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 2 8 oz bottles of clam juice
  • 1 TBSP fresh lemon juice
  • 2 large Yukon gold potatoes, cubed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper, to taste

Smokey Croutons

  • 2 slices bread, toasted
  • 2 TBSP butter (or butter your bread however you want)
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika

Instructions 

  • Heat 2 TBSP of butter and oil in a large saute pan over high heat.
  • Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel and lightly salt them.
  • Once the butter is melted and simmering, almost foamy, carefully add the scallops to the pan; make sure none of them are touching one other.
  • Sear the scallops for 2 minutes on each side, or until a golden crust starts to form and the scallop easily releases itself from the pan. If the scallop doesn't release when you try to budge it, let it cook about 30 seconds longer before trying again. Don't force it, or you'll tear it. The scallops should have a 1/4-inch golden crust on each side while still being translucent in the center.
  • Reserving the butter and bits from the pan, remove the scallops from the pan and set aside. Transfer the butter and bits from the pan to a large stockpot. Add that extra TBSP of butter if needed.
  • Add the celery and onion to the stock pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned — about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes to get rid of the raw flavor.
  • Add the clam juice and lemon juice, and whisk until smooth.
  • Add the potatoes, wine, bay leaf, thyme sprigs, and a few cracks of black pepper; simmer until the wine has evaporated and the potatoes start to soften, about 10 minutes.
  • While you wait for the potatoes to cook, cut the scallops into quarters leaving a few whole for garnish if desired.
  • When the potatoes are tender, add the cream and the cubed scallops. Add salt and black pepper to taste; Let the chowder come to a simmer, and immediately remove it from the heat. You don't want to bring it to a full boil. 
  • Fish out the thyme and the bay leaf, and discard them.
  • Let the chowder sit for a while to let the flavors settle. Reheat (*see notes) it to a low simmer before serving, then garnish with chopped parsley, smokey croutons, and a full seared scallop. (I add microgreens and chives because I love them on any and all soups!)

Smokey Croutons

  • Set the oven to broil. Butter your bread slices on both sides and sprinkle each side with desired amount of smoked paprika. Place the sheet pan on the top rack of the oven, closest to the broiler. Keep a close eye on the toast as it will brown fast — about 2 minutes. Flip it halfway through for another 1-2 minutes. Remove, cut into small cubes, and garnish soup.

Notes

If the chowder is thinner than you'd like and you want to thicken it up, simply mix 1/4 cup cold water with 2 TBSP corn starch in a cup or small bowl. Whisk until starch is completely dissolved. Bring the chowder to a simmer (not a boil) and slowly add the mixture to the soup while stirring. Stir until the chowder thickens.