Sunday, June 5, 2011

Hearty Fish Chowder

Soups and chowders are often the realm of chilly winter evenings; however, on this lazy, sunny Sunday a hearty slow-cooked dish called out to be made.

The great joy of soups is the ease with which we can modify them to varied tastes. Don't care for the lima beans? Toss in spring peas, shelled edamame or fava beans. Like a little kick? Stir in some tabasco or sriracha. Trying to cut back on carbs? Omit the potatoes. I'd love to hear what veggies and seasonings you'd stir in to make this chowder your own!

adapted from Biggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes by BHG

serves 6

The Ingredients:
2 medium potatoes, finely chopped (2 cups)
1 cup chopped onions (2 medium)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 10 3/4 oz can condensed cream of celery soup
1 - 10 oz package frozen whole kernel corn
1 - 10 oz package frozen baby lima beans
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
1 lb cod or other whitefish fillets
1 - 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes
1/3 cup non-fat milk powder

The Process:
In a 3 1/2 to 4 quart slow cooker, combine potatoes, onion, garlic, condensed soup, corn, lima beans, broth, white wine and lemon-pepper seasoning.

Cover; cook on low heat setting for 6-7 hours or on high heat setting for 3-3 1/2 hours. Place fish on the mixture in the cooker. If using low heat setting, turn to heat heat setting. Cover an cook for 1 hour more.

Add undrained tomatoes and the dry milk powder to cooker, stirring gently to break up the fish.

My Modifications:
Cod was not to be had at the market, so white fish was substituted. These fillets added some additional prep time as their skins and fins needed to be removed.

I have a tendency of stocking my pantry with low sodium broths, soups and misc canned goods. As a result I often find myself needed to add salt to taste. I personally prefer this, as an over salted dish is hard to rescue.

And as usual, the produce on the market today seems to be on steroids. One potato yielded the suggested 2 cups. Three quarters of an onion provided the suggested 1 cup. Of course that's not to say you can't go veggie happy and throw more in!

The Review:
This soup certainly was hearty, though not very rich. For some reason I was anticipating a creamier base similar to New England clam chowder, even though nothing in the ingredient list really supports this assumption. This broth remained fairly thin.

The flavor did benefit from the addition of salt, but overall the recipe was fairly bland. This subdued taste did allow the flavor of the fish and the veggies to shine through...but I would have preferred a little extra something. Taking my cues from a traditional bouillabaisse, next time I'll consider adding fennel, thyme, basil, bay leaf, saffron and a bit of orange peel.

But hearty it was. And though bland, it wasn't without its charms.

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