Walleye chowder

Post and photos by Todd Marsee, Michigan Sea Grant’s graphic designer and photographer

When Michigan’s springtime warmth takes a step back toward winter, it’s a perfect time to make some savory chowder with Great Lakes fish. This recipe was adapted from Ted Thill’s whitefish chowder recipe in Michigan Sea Grant’s Wild Caught and Close to Home: Selecting and Preparing Great Lakes Whitefish, currently available for purchase as a digital download on miseagrant.com.

Recipes like this are wonderfully adaptable. We didn’t have whitefish on hand, so we used leftover grilled walleye to make the chowder: another fabulous Great Lakes fish! We also used cream instead of the condensed milk included in the original recipe, and the results turned out fine.

So use whatever Great Lakes fish you find in your freezer, fish market, grocery store, or local lake, and give this hearty recipe a try!

Grandpa Thill’s Walleye Chowder

Adapted from Ted Thill’s recipe in Wild Caught And Close To Home: Selecting And Preparing Great Lakes Whitefish

Yield: 6–8 servings (cup/bowl)
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes


½ cup diced carrots
½ cup diced celery
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup cubed potatoes
2 cans (10¾ ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup water
1/2 pint heavy cream
1 pound skinless Great Lakes walleye fillets, cubed (original recipe calls for whitefish)
Salt and pepper to taste (original recipe calls for celery salt)


  1. Rinse the cubed fish under cold water and let it drain.
  2. In a 2-quart soup pot, cook the carrots, celery, onion, and potatoes, adding just enough water to steam the vegetables.
  3. When the vegetables are tender, add the cream of mushroom soup, heavy cream, and remaining water.
  4. Keep stirring the mixture until it’s almost boiling.
  5. Add the fish.
  6. Continue stirring for another 7–10 minutes or until the fish is cooked. Be sure to keep stirring so the chowder doesn’t scorch and stick to the bottom of the pot. Add pepper and salt to taste.

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