Chowder is a state of mind—depending on which East Coast state is serving it.  Down our way any kind of chowder is based on those large deep sea “chowder clams”—the briny, slightly low-tide brothy flavor is unmistakable.  Add some catch-of-the-day fish, smoky seasoning meat, a few chopped vegetables—and you have fish chowder.  The further north on the East Coast, the creamier gets the chowder.  This recipe relies on all those variations—and is flexible enough to use whatever you have on hand, and can be brothy or a bit thicker.  Serve with some warm cornbread, and there’s a feast for a cold winter night.  

  • ½ lb fresh or defrosted frozen firm white fish, like cod
  • 3 medium red-skin potatoes
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery rib
  • ½ small onion
  • 4-5 slices of bacon
  • 1 6.5 oz can chopped clams—or 1 doz small clams, or 2-3 large chowder clams, steamed and chopped
  • A few fresh/frozen peeled shrimp, if available
  • 8 oz bottle of clam juice
  • Half & half
  • Pepper
  • Thyme
  • Nutmeg
  • 1-2 cups well-seasoned broth

Gently poach fish pieces in half and half, to cover, until fish flakes easily with fork.  Remove fish and set aside.  Gently poach shrimp in same pan for about 3 minutes, until pink—set aside.  Sauté bacon strips in large pot until cooked but not crisp, and set aside.  Drain about half the drippings then sauté finely chopped vegetables for two minutes.   Add clams and their juices, bottled clam juice and half & half.  Flake fish coarsely with fork, then coarsely cut shrimp and bacon—add all to pot.   Add pepper, dried thyme and nutmeg to taste.  Stir, then add broth as desired.  Simmer gently and reduce liquid to preferred consistency.  Add a tblsp or so of instant mashed potatoes to thicken—or a bit more half & half to finish.  Serves 4.

The Kitchen Hive

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