Lobster Chowder with Bacon, Saffron & Tomatoes

By Yankee Magazine

Apr 11 2018


Lobster Chowder with Bacon, Saffron & Tomatoes

Photo Credit : Krissy O'Shea

Traditional lobster chowder — the way lobstermen make it — is usually a simple stew of lobster, dairy, onion, potato, and seasonings. In the spirit of Yankee frugality, every part of the lobster is used: The cooking water becomes the stock, potatoes are the primary thickener (no flour here), and the meat is added at the end.

In this version, I wanted to include a few more layers of flavor: acidity, in the form of tomatoes and white wine; saffron for aroma; bacon for smokiness; and corn for sweetness. It’s a terrific combination — and even better the day after you make it!


8 servings


6 cups water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 lobsters (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds each)
4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pinches saffron, crumbled
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, unpeeled, diced
1 1/2 cups corn niblets, fresh or frozen
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup dry white wine, such as pinot grigio
Minced chives and crumbled bacon, for garnish


In a lobster pot (16- to 20-quart size), bring water to a boil. Add salt and lobsters, then close the lid and steam until lobsters are bright red and the legs twist off easily (about 6 minutes). Remove the lobsters, reserving the cooking water, and set them aside on a rimmed sheet to cool.

Meanwhile, in a heavy-bottom Dutch oven (5- to 7-quart size) over medium heat, cook the diced bacon until crisp and rendered, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the cooked bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel–lined plate. Reserve the fat in the pan. Add the onion to the pan and sauté until translucent, 6 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice and the pepper, stir, then remove from the heat.

When the lobsters are cool enough to handle, tear off the tails, claws, and small legs. Discard the bodies. Remove the meat from the remaining parts, saving the shells. Return the shells to the pot with the cooking water and simmer for 15 more minutes to produce a flavorful broth. Strain the broth into a measuring cup (you’ll have between 4 and 5 cups). Scoop about 1/2 cup of this hot liquid into a small bowl and sprinkle the saffron over it, then stir. Let that steep while you cook the potatoes.

Add the broth and potatoes to the Dutch oven with the onions and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the saffron liquid back to the pan. Stir in the lobster, corn, cream, and white wine and bring to a gentle simmer. Remove from the heat and let it sit 5 to 10 minutes to intensify the flavors. Serve warm, sprinkled with chives and bacon.