Here in Boston, we're deep into soup season, and there's no soup more comforting than fish chowder. Big chunks of flaky white fish, golden potatoes, onions and herbs: there's nothing better on a chilly afternoon.
It's easy to make chowder. Start with any mild white fish that looks good in the market -- cod, halibut, haddock -- or with flash-frozen fish fillets from Trader Joe's, if that's what you have. Jazz it up a bit by broiling it with a sprinkling of Old Bay Seasoning. I like to use Yukon Gold potatoes, but any potatoes cut into smaller pieces will be fine. Fresh herbs are great, but dried herbs will be great, too. Substitute milk for cream, to save a couple of calories. You can skip the butter, but the recipe doesn't call for much, and it helps create the rich mouth-feel that makes this soup so satisfying.
White fish and golden potato chowder
From the pantry you'll need: Old Bay Seasoning, kosher salt, fresh black pepper, butter, olive oil, onion, thyme, chicken stock, unbleached all-purpose flour, parsley.
Serves 4; can be doubled.
1 lb halibut or other white fish (cod, scrod, haddock, or a mix)
1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
3 Tbsp butter, divided
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
12 mini Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered
1 tsp dried thyme leaf (or 2 tsp fresh)
2 cups chicken stock, homemade or low-sodium storebought
1 cup milk (I use 2%)
2 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus extra for garnish
Preheat the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Season the fish on both sides with Old Bay Seasoning, and a sprinkle of kosher salt and black pepper. Broil for 10-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, turning the fish once. The fish should be almost cooked through; it will cook more in the soup.
In a Dutch oven or heavy soup pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter, plus the olive oil over low-medium heat. Stir in the onion, and sauté for a few minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the potatoes and thyme, and stir to coat with the butter and oil. Pour in the chicken stock.
Raise heat to high, to bring the liquid to a boil. Then, reduce to low, cover the pot, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are cooked through.
While the potatoes are cooking, in a small straight-sided sauce pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour, and continue stirring (you're making a roux) until the flour is completely incorporated and the roux coats the bottom of the pan. Pour in the milk, and stir until it thickens slightly. Then pour the whole bit into the pot with the potatoes.
Break the fish into large chunks, and add it to the soup. Taste, and season as needed with salt and plenty of black pepper; if you've used homemade stock, you might need as much as a teaspoon of salt. Finally, stir in the parsley.
Rhode Island clear clam chowder, from The Perfect Pantry
Smoky corn chowder, from The Perfect Pantry
Atlantic Canada seafood chowder, from The Perfect Pantry
15-minute New England clam chowder, from Hip Pressure Cooking
Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.