Hurricane Kyle and New England Fish Chowder


We had some dreary weather this weekend as a huricanne made its way up the East coast.  Saturday was a cold, rainy day that demanded a chowder supper.  This dinner plan was only made sweeter by the fact that I did not have to go to the grocery store with three children in tow because I happened to have some frozen haddock, potatoes, onions and milk in the kitchen.

Sometimes, I follow a recipe for chowder, but because I do not have an absolute favorite recipe from a book or elsewhere; I often cook as I go.  This fish chowder is definitely on the rich side, but I belong to the school of thought that New England-style chowder is one of those dishes that you completely enjoy, but only occasionally.

New England Fish Chowder
Serves 6

Like most soups and stews, chowder can be made ahead and simply re-heated as needed.  Be sure to warm homemade chowders over low, steady heat for the best results. 

6 slices of bacon
1 onion, finely chopped
3/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt
3 – 4 potatoes, peeled and cut into spoon size pieces
2 (8oz.) bottles clam juice, my favorite is Bar Harbor brand
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup whole milk
1 1/4 cups half & half
1 1/2 lbs. haddock or cod
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
Tabasco Sauce (optional)
Oyster Crackers (optional)

1.  In a large soup pot, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy.  Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels.  Transfer the bacon fat to a heat safe bowl.  Add 2 Tbsp. fat back to the soup pot.

2.  Add the onions, thyme, celery seed, bay leaf, pepper and salt.  Cook and stir until onions begin to soften, about 3 -5 minutes.  Add the potatoes, clam juice and white wine to the pot.  Bring to a simmer and cover.  Cook until potatoes are tender, 15 – 20 minutes.

3.  Add milk and half & half.  Bring to a simmer but do not boil.  If the soup boils, there is a good chance the milk and cream will separate.  This will not affect the flavor of the soup, but the appearance may not be all that appealing.

4.  Add fish and parsley.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Fish is done when it flakes into pieces.  Reduce heat to low.  Crumble reserved bacon into the chowder.  If desired, offer oyster crackers and Tabasco.

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