Rachel Allen’s Ballycotton Fish Chowder

For a very long time, I have been wanting a good Irish cookbook.  Not just to use for St. Patrick’s Day, though it is that time of year again.  I haven’t made a lot of Irish food because I haven’t known that much about it.  My internet searches usually turn up recipes for Corned Beef and Cabbage, which is really more of an American thing than and Irish one.  I want good Irish fare like I would have if I hopped on a plane and headed to the lush, green hills of Ireland.

Rachel Allen's Ballycotton Fish Chowder | CafeJohnsonia.com

I was asked if I would be interested in reviewing Rachel Allen’s new book, Rachel’s Irish Family Food.  And it was serendipitous because I would have bought it anyway. :)

Rachel Allen's Ballycotton Fish Chowder | CafeJohnsonia.com

The pictures are beautiful!  Her family farm is just lovely.  Exactly the kind of place where I wouldn’t mind living or at least visiting every so often.  I want to to move in with Rachel and eat at her table every single day.

Rachel Allen's Ballycotton Fish Chowder | CafeJohnsonia.com

I write a lot about my Norwegian heritage because I’m so proud of it.  The rest of my ancestors hail from England and Scotland.  No one from Ireland, sadly.  But I think it’s in my genes to love seafood and the ocean.  Fish chowder is one of my very favorite ways to enjoy seafood.  Rachel’s recipe for Ballycotton Fish Chowder caught my eye immediately the first time I thumbed through the book.  I bookmarked it as the first recipe to try, along with her recipe for Irish Soda Bread.

Rachel Allen's Ballycotton Fish Chowder | CafeJohnsonia.com
My husband absolutely adores Irish Soda Bread.  We had a lot of Irish neighbors and friends in New York and in March there was no shortage of soda bread.  It’s been awhile since I’ve had or made a good one.  Rachel’s recipe could not be easier!  It literally came together in 5-10 minutes and then baked up nicely in less than an hour.
Rachel Allen's Ballycotton Fish Chowder | CafeJohnsonia.com
Rachel Allen's Ballycotton Fish Chowder | CafeJohnsonia.com
Rachel Allen's Ballycotton Fish Chowder | CafeJohnsonia.com
Rachel Allen's Ballycotton Fish Chowder | CafeJohnsonia.com
Anyway, I think you’ll love this book and its traditional recipes.  It will transport you to a softer, calmer way of life, which may just be the pictures.  I’m sure Rachel is as busy as ever with her television series, cookbook writing, not to mention her house full of kids.  But I like to think that a day on her farm, sitting up to her table for home-cooked meals would be just the escape I’m looking for.
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Rachel Allen’s Ballycotton Fish Chowder

A flavorful fish chowder made with fresh and smoked fish, potatoes, and bacon. Serve with Brown Soda Bread, Wholemeal Honey Bread, or Brown Yeast Bread.

  • Total Time: 35 mins
  • Yield: 4 1x


Units Scale
  • Extra virgin olive oil 3 ounces (100g) bacon, cut into
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black
  • pepper
  • 6 ounces (175g) potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/8-inch (1cm) cubes
  • 2 cups (500ml) chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups (350ml) milk
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 8 ounces (200g) fish fillets (mixture of salmon and a white fish, such as pollock, haddock, or cod) cut into 3/4- to 1-inch (2-3cm) chunks
  • 3 ounces (100g) hot smoked haddock or smoked salmon, cut into 3/4-inch (2cm) pieces
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley


  1. Pour a small drizzle of olive oil into a large saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, tip in the bacon. Fry for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all the fat has rendered and the bacon is crispy and golden brown.
  2. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper (bearing in mind that the bacon is quite salty), and cook for another 5 minutes. Then add the potatoes with the stock, milk, and cayenne.
  3. Bring to a boil, decrease the heat, and simmer for 3 minutes, or until the cubes of potato are half cooked. Add the fish and gently simmer for another 3 to 4 minutes, until the fish is opaque and the potatoes are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste, stir in the chopped herbs, and serve.


from Rachel’s Irish Family Food (reprinted with permission)

  • Author: Lindsey Johnson
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Category: main, soup
  • Cuisine: Irish

Rachel’s recipe for Irish Soda Bread can be found here. This  post contains an Amazon affiliate link.

Rachel Allen's Ballycotton Fish Chowder | CafeJohnsonia.com

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  1. Looks delicious! Looks like a beautiful cookbook.
    And thanks for the mini-lesson on corned beef & cabbage. Is there a place in Utah County to get good fish fillets and smoked haddock or salmon? Salt Lake County?

  2. That looks so good! I’m glad you have genes from your mother to like fish. Could you please share the Irish Soda Bread recipe? I would like to make it on Sunday to go along with the American version of corned beef & cabbage :).

    1. Hi Tricia! That’s a great question and I should have addressed that in the post. It is the hot smoked salmon for the soup. And it’s a really great one. All of Rachel’s recipes have been delicious! Let me know how you like it! -Lindsey

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