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Bacon, Potato and Crab Chowder

Bacon, potato and crab chowder in a bowlAnyone who reads this food blog will know that I am a big fan of Ainsley Harriott, especially his Gourmet Express book, which was Number Two in my top ten cookbooks of 2008.

You can always trust his recipes. But… Can you trust his times? Hey, it’s Gourmet Express, right? The book’s USP is how quickly you can make the recipes. I decided to put it to the test.

As always, when hungry, this is the first book I look at for ideas. I want good food, quicker than a take-away or delivery, and I want it fast.

Although I’ve owned this book for years, there are still undiscovered gems in there for me and I was delighted to find a recipe for Newfoundland Crab Chowder.



Preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time 35 minutes

45 minutes, eh? OK, Ainsley. The race is on!

Ainsley’s recipe for
Newfoundland Crab Chowder

(Serves 4)


  • 25g (1 oz) butter
  • 4 rashers smoked streaky bacon, roughly chopped
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 450g (1 lb) floury potatoes, diced
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1.2 litres (2 pints) fish stock
  • 2 x 170g cans crabmeat, drained
  • 200g carton crème fraîche
  • 4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


Melt the butter in a large pan and cook the bacon, shallots and potatoes for 4-5 minutes. Add the thyme, bay leaf and fish stock and simmer for 25-30 minutes.

Stir in the crabmeat and crème fraîche into the pan and heat gently. Stir in the parsley. Ladle into bowls and serve.


Not Delia’s recipe for
Bacon, Potato and Crab Chowder

(serves 4)


  • 25g (1 oz) butter
  • 4 rashers smoked streaky bacon, snipped into small strips with scissors
  • 1 medium-sized red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large potatoes, diced
    (Ainsley’s 450g or 2 large potatoes didn’t look as if it would be enough to feed four hungry people. Although, to be fair, he used a heck of a lot more crab meat than I did.)
  • a sprinkling of dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1.2 litres (2 pints) hot vegetable stock (you can use stock cubes)
  • 100g crabmeat
    (that was all I had, which was left over and frozen from a king crab I’d previously prepared.)
  • 200ml whipping cream
    (not necessarily because whipping cream is the best, but because it’s all I had. Confused about cream?)
  • a handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


First set the kitchen timer to 30 minutes (or whatever your goal is), and see if you can complete the dish before it rings. 🙂

Peel and dice the potatoes. You can parboil them (in a separate pan) while you’re getting everything else on the go. This will save you a lot of time!

Next, chop the onion and start sweating it off in the butter in a suitable pot for your soup. Meanwhile snip the bacon rashers into the pot. Stir and let it cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the dried thyme, the bay leaf and the veg (or fish) stock. Bring to a simmer.

By the time you’ve done this, the potatoes will be almost cooked. Drain the diced potatoes and add to the soup mix. Simmer for as long as it takes to make sure the potatoes are properly cooked – maybe another five minutes?

Pour in the cream, add the crabmeat, and bring back to a simmer. Taste and season with salt and pepper if wanted. Stir in the chopped parsley. Ladle into bowls or soup plates and serve.

Stop boinging and bouncing around the kitchen like Gordon Ramsay and check the kitchen timer. Yes! There’s plenty of time to pour a glass of wine and have a leisurely sip or two. Brrrrrrrrrrinnnggg!

I did it easily in less time than Ainsley suggests. This is good, because not everyone can work at top speed in the kitchen and if he’s factored in a bit of extra time, it means his recipes and timings are even more trustworthy. Good old Ainsley!

PS: To my friend Mike K-H of New Freebooters, who is always asking me for recipes for hungry yachtsmen, this is a good one for you. I can’t guarantee the timing, though, as it depends on how fast you can catch a crab.

Ainsley Harriott’s Gourmet Express

Buy from Amazon UK

Buy from

Ainsley Harriott

Hardback, 178 pages
2000, BBC Worldwide
ISBN 0 563 55179 8
RRP: £16.99


6 Responses to “Bacon, Potato and Crab Chowder”

  1. Mike K-H

    Catch a crab? If the dinghy is already alongside with the oars in, give me 30 seconds to get in, cast off and row a couple of strokes properly to get away from obstructions, then bingo! (Catching a crab is what happens to inexperienced rowers when an oar blade digs in deep, usually ending up by lifting the inner end of the oar out of the rowlock).

  2. Not Delia

    So you think you can still do it in under 30 minutes? LOL! You make the soup. I’ll have the wine ready and waiting for you. BTW, we tried this soup with water biscuits spread with gorgonzola. Oh, wow! Delicious! (And a lot of calories too.)

  3. Mike K-H

    Well, I’ve done it – and had a bowl of it for lunch. Not exactly like either of the recipes above, but in the same spirit. I’ve also video-ed a few bits of the process, so that I can show you a bit of what went on once I’ve done the editing.

    Tasted good for a first effort, and I’m thinking about what to do slightly differently next time (or during several reheats of today’s pot, for that matter).

  4. Not Delia

    I’ll never be your nanny, Mike. But be careful when reheating. Bacteria need certain criteria to multiply – warmth, moisture, time. If food is in “the danger zone”, ie above 5C or below 63C, they multiply in binary fission every ten to twenty minutes. And food poisoning bacteria are invisible to the naked eye.

    You’ll probably be OK (it’s your body – you risk it), but for heaven’s sake make sure you reheat the stuff to a HOT temperature for long enough before eating it. I would never recommend this course of action to anyone.

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