Butter Chicken Chowder

Butter chicken soup 1

Most people wonder why they didn’t come up with the billion dollar idea for the Post-it or the flask tie/ping pong door/hairy stockings or the Instant Pot, but when I was first presented with a bowl of butter chicken chowder, I wondered why the idea had never occurred to me before. I mean, butter chicken is all about the sauce, right? So why not cut straight to the chase and serve up a bowl of essentially butter chicken sauce with enough chicken, potatoes and peas to make it count as soup? Better yet – chowder, in all its hearty, creamy glory.

Butter chicken soup 3

I’ve been meaning to make a pot of this since the launch of the latest Soup Sisters cookbook, for which the 11 year old daughter of two chef friends came up with this creation. It’s truly sublime, and the sort of thing you can pull together quickly for dinner. Often when I make butter chicken I streamline things with leftover roasted chicken, and sometimes I just pick up a deli roasted chicken and, when W was not a fan of curry, he’d get the legs while the rest of the meat was shredded and chopped and stirred into the sauce.

I still do this sometimes, not only because it’s fast, but because chicken roasted on the bone has much more flavour. In this case, I used chicken breasts – something I very rarely buy, but for some reason noticed at the grocery store last week that they were almost half the price of thighs. I wonder if the tides are turning and with everyone appreciating a good, flavourful, less expensive thigh, price has actually increased along with demand?

Butter chicken soup 2

But! Regardless of your chicken of choice, it’s worth turning some into a pot of butter chicken soup so that you can gulp the sauce down by the spoonful. I made a few changes, just because of what I had in my kitchen: a small handful of cilantro went into the masala, only because I love it. And the original recipe called for crushed cashews, which would have been delicious and added richness, but I happened to not have any cashews in the kitchen (if I do, I eat them) – if you do and want to, add about a third of a cup along with the chicken when you return it to the pot.

Also – I used sour cream in place of the heavy cream, because that’s what I have and that’s what Vij uses in his curries, so I knew it would suffice.

Butter chicken soup recipe
Butter chicken soup recipe

Butter Chicken Chowder


February 25, 2018


1 onion, finely chopped

small handful fresh cilantro (optional)

1 Tbsp canola or other vegetable oil, plus extra for cooking

2 Tbsp lime juice

1 Tbsp grated ginger

1 Tbsp paprika

1 Tbsp chili powder

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp salt

pinch cayenne

pinch nutmeg

5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or 2 breasts), cut into bite-sized pieces

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup tomato paste

3 cups chicken stock

1 Tbsp packed brown sugar

2 medium potatoes, cooked and diced

1/2-1 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup heavy cream or sour cream


1In a food processor, make a wet masala (spice blend) by pulsing the onion, cilantro (if using), 1 Tbsp of the oil, the lime juice, ginger, paprika, chili powder, garlic, garam masala, salt, cayenne and nutmeg. Pulse until finely minced and fairly smooth.

2Meanwhile, drizzle some oil into a heavy skillet, pot or Dutch oven and brown the chicken pieces on all sides, sprinkling with salt and pepper as they cook. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside on a plate, melt the butter in the pot and add the masala. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for another 2-3 minutes. Add the stock and the sugar, bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes.

3Return the chicken to the pot, along with any juices that may have accumulated on the plate. Simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes, peas and cream or sour cream, reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 more minutes. Serve warm, topped with extra sour cream or yogurt and cilantro, if you like. Serves 4-6.


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17 comments on “Butter Chicken Chowder

  1. Heidi M.
    February 26, 2018 at 10:32 am

    Julie, that first photograph is mind-blowing!
    You are inspiring me to pick up my camera again.

    • Julie
      February 27, 2018 at 10:12 pm

      Aw, thanks Heidi!!

  2. Lee
    February 26, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    Would this be equally good made with fish stock and fish filets instead of chicken?

    • Julie
      February 27, 2018 at 10:12 pm

      Oooh, I would think so!

  3. Susan Robertson
    February 26, 2018 at 8:05 pm

    OMG. I confess I freaked a bit at putting a TABLESPOON of chilli powder but it works. My house smells amazing! If they made this scent into a spray….. I’d totally buy that. Love this dish, I made naan too for the first time. This one will go into rotation.

    • Julie
      February 27, 2018 at 10:12 pm

      Yay! And I know.. chili powder isn’t as spicy as it sounds though!

  4. Chris
    February 27, 2018 at 3:55 pm

    Made it last night exactly as per the recipe. Very yummy! My spice loving
    (chicken thigh hating) son adored it too. I’m going to make a double batch of the Marsala paste and freeze it to make the prep even quicker and easier in the future.

  5. Susan
    March 2, 2018 at 4:15 am

    Made this a few days ago…AMAZING!!

  6. sectorelectricidad
    March 6, 2018 at 9:32 am

    I grew up on all but the fish chowder. Mom made corn chowder with fresh corn cut off the cob, potatoes diced small. ONIons chopped, and milk or cream with salt to taste. Simmer TILL potatoes and onions are tender. I raised my kids on all of these and homemade biscuits more often than the yeast bread. Mom made the yeast bread for the week,.. almost every Monday. I still like beans but today I add a cut up onion, a whole jalapeno, and some cut up BACOn and cook it in a crockpot overnight. Then when tender season to my taste with a tiny bit of salt. I live above 6000 ft so beans are either cooked long and slow or in a pressure cooker. It”s all still good eating.

    • Julie
      March 13, 2018 at 5:14 pm

      Amazing. Sounds fantastic!

  7. Courtney
    December 17, 2018 at 8:05 pm

    I made this tonight and it was delish! Except I only had smoked paprika, but still tasty.
    Also, mine didn’t turn out as thick as yours looks, but I followed measurements to a T. Any suggestions?
    Thank you

  8. baby shower ideas
    March 16, 2019 at 8:09 am

    Regardless of your chicken of choice, it’s worth turning some into a pot of butter chicken soup so that you can gulp the sauce down by the spoonful.

  9. stephen curry wallpaper
    March 26, 2019 at 10:15 pm

    I wonder if the tides are turning and with everyone appreciating a good, flavourful, less expensive thigh, price has actually increased along with demand

  10. Natalie W
    April 18, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    This is an amazing recipe! Thank you so much. I subbed lentils for potatoes because of a picky child, and everyone loved it.

    • Julie
      April 19, 2020 at 10:11 am

      Amazing, that sounds delicious!!

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