Chowder is such a comforting food. Traditionally a dish for the working class and fishing people, New England style chowda, is believed to have originated in Newfoundland. In those days, Breton fisherman would throw a portion of the day’s catch into a large pot. The fish would be cooked with salt pork, and thickened with crackers or crushed sea biscuits.
Recipes for chowder have evolved over the years to include canned condensed milk, cream of celery soup, or other industrial food products. Although these products are marketed as time saving techniques, the old-fashioned chowder is easy to prepare without the aid of such processed ingredients, and much healthier!
The most important tool in your kitchen would be a heavy soup pot, to allow the chowder to cook slowly and not scorch. Start by sautéing the onions in butter (or salt pork if you are not feeding vegetarians). Add cubed potatoes and fish stock or clam juice to cover, and simmer until just fork tender. If making fish stock is not your typical type of cooking activity, consider stocking your pantry or freezer with jars of clam juice. You’ll notice a delicious difference in the flavor of the stew.
To complete the chowder, add the dairy and the fish in large pieces. Slowly bring to a simmer, then cool and let sit (in the refrigerator) for at least 24 hours. When you reheat the chowder, the slow stirring breaks the fish into bite-sized pieces. Ladle into heated soup plates and enjoy with plenty of crackers.
MARTHA’S HADDOCK CHOWDER
- ¼ pound butter (1 stick ½ cup)
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 2 cups cubed potatoes about 1 pound
- 1 cup clam juice
- ½ teaspoon celery seed
- 1 bay leaf removed after cooking
- 2 pounds Maine haddock
- 5 cups whole milk
- 2 cups cream
- 1 teaspoon Sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic salt
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- Melt the butter in a heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft. Add the clam juice (or water), bay leaf, celery seed and potatoes. Cook until just fork tender.
- Add the haddock and dairy. Slowly bring to a simmer. Remove the bay leaf. Season with the sea salt, fresh pepper, parsley, and garlic salt.
- Allow chowder to cool before transferring to the refrigerator.
- Let sit at least 24 – 48 hours before serving. To serve, reheat slowly in a heavy soup pot over low heat. Serve in heated soup bowls.
- Makes 12 servings