Raiding the larder of ideas.

What one family eats, plans to eat, dreams of eating. Plus, other food and kitchen-related stuff from the home of steak-and-potatoes, pie and fresh green beans from the garden.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Philly Fish Chowder

Fishy Friday strikes again. Not that anybody in my immediate circle is concerned by a certain faith's practice of eschewing meats, but, since it's March, and the weather here is unpredictable, I thought a little tummy-warming was in order. We've already had chili (three varieties, mind you!), a big pot of chicken stew, and the Bat went wild and made her beefy-vegetable-practically-thick-as-gumbo soup last week, so now we're on to paler offerings for our Friday night gathering.

When I want to make soup, I try to make stock well-ahead of time, too, so as to not spend all day on my battered pins. So, yesterday, I made a big pot of vegetable stock. I probably made enough to toss a quart or so into the freezer, but I decided I don't want to dilute the flavor at all, today, so the whole gallon-plus is going into the pot again...

Just a few things:

When using my vegetable broth, the chowder is a slightly golden-hued creamy soup, as opposed to the more traditional bright-white if you build it from fish stock.

With your fish, be sure it's very fresh, or fresh-frozen. Don't bother to thaw the frozen stuff before cooking it, here. The boiling stock will do that for you.

Your choice of potato variety will affect the flavor, too. If you use golden-types, such as Klondike Rose or Yukon Gold, it will lend a slightly buttery finish to the chowder. Using Russets, you may wish to bump up the soup's flavor with some bacon crumbles or chopped ham...

If you have issues with fat & cholesterol, you may choose to use neufchatel (reduced fat cream cheese) instead of cream cheese, but don't use the low-fat "cream cheese" -- it's just insufficient all around.

Philly Fish Chowder

1 gallon rich vegetable broth or stock
1 lb mild fish (I used flounder, this week)
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup frozen corn (or, if you can get it, fresh-cut from cob)
1/2 large red sweet bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, coarsely chopped
1 (8-oz) brick cream cheese, softened in microwave until nearly liquid

In a large stock pot, bring stock to boil. Drop in fish, let return to simmer. When fish is cooked until easily flaked, remove from stock, break into large crumbles (if the boiling stock hasn't already finished the job) and set aside in refrigerator.

Return stock to a boil, add vegetables, allow to simmer until potatoes are tender. Add in cooked fish, stir in cream cheese. Serve hot, garnished with shredded cheddar cheese and chopped chives (or, no garnish, if you have a Pop like mine, who just wants the soup).

Afterthought: This is really good with fresh-baked Anadama bread. I'll have to have the Bat post her recipe for that, very soon...

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