Soup is awesome. Period. I fancy myself a diplomatic and tolerant gal, but the simple truth is that soups, stews and chowders are irrefutably fantastic foods. Nearly each and every time I cook, no matter the time of day, I have to fight the urge to make a soup. I’m aware I have soup issues, but I simply don’t care. Today we’re giving in to those carnal soup urges and let it all happen. I recently went back east to celebrate my little sister’s wedding. It. Was. Fantastic. Fall in New England is a beauty I often forget about since I only tend to see it in the frozen, yucky winter. My SoCal soul never did care much for winter. That said, as the weather cools I get a mean hankering for some legit New England chowder. I need the real deal salty, fishy, slightly creamy kind of chowder, not the clumpy, gloopy, flavorless imitations that can be found, well, almost everywhere. This is a FLOUR-LESS chowder recipe that uses the starch from the potatoes as a mild thickener instead of relying on flour or (gasp!) cornstarch to give the soup body. Let’s hear it for gluten-free goodness!
The other great thing about this recipe is that you can really mix it up using different seafood combinations. I like to use a half cod, half flakier fish (dover sole etc.) as well as tiny shrimp, some clams, and sometimes even some lobster when I’m feeling frisky! This makes for a wonderful array of textures and flavors. Mmmmmmm. This time I used milk, but sometimes I use cream depending on my desired “health factor” at the moment. Both work quite well, though the cream makes for a richer soup broth.
Tastes like home to me!!! I hope you love this as much as I do. So curl up with a bowl of soul food, a pup (or two or three;) and a good movie and enjoy!
p.s: Speaking of my sister’s wedding, the wood round in this photograph was one of many made for her centerpieces and cake stand, several of which I shipped here from the east coast (yeah, that was a heavy box!). The skilled Zack Frank cut the rounds with precision and my clever mother stripped and oiled them, yup, craftiness definitely runs in my family!
- 6 strips high quality bacon OR 4 ounces salt pork, diced fairly small
- 2 onions
- 2 Tablespoons dried thyme
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1-1/2 pounds Dutch gold baby or new potatoes, scrubbed and sliced into ¼" slices
- 1 quart fish or chicken stock
- 1 bottle clam juice
- 2 Tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1-1/2 pounds cod
- 1-1/2 pounds flakey fish like dover sole
- 1 can tiny shrimp
- 2 cans chopped clams
- sea salt and fresh pepper
- 1-1/2 cups top cream whole milk or cream (for a richer broth)
- finely chopped chives for garnish
- Heat a large dutch oven or stock pot over low heat then add bacon/salt pork. After it has rendered a healthy bit of fat, turn up the heat a bit and cook until crispy. Remove pork with a slotted spoon and reserve on a paper towel lined plate.
- Add onions, thyme and bay leaf to the rendered fat and saute, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 10 minutes.
- Add potatoes, stock and clam juice to cover potatoes and bring to a boil. Cook vigorously for about 10 minutes until potatoes have softened but are still a bit firm. If the stock isn't thick enough, smash a few potatoes against the side of the pot to release their starches.
- Season aggressively with salt and pepper. Once you add the fish you don't want to have to stir too much so over season just a bit in anticipation of the milk. Stir in fresh thyme.
- Reduce heat to low and add the fish. Cook for about 5 minutes or so then remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes, it will continue cooking.
- Gently stir in milk. Divide among bowls and top each bowl with diced chives and the reserved crispy bacon.