I have never eaten chowder before. (I’ll wait a moment and let that sink in.) I realize this is weird given that A. I love soup; B. I lived in Boston for 2 years as an adult and C. I pride myself on my wide palate. But creamy soups are not always my favorite and I used to hate seafood, so somehow it never came up. I only mention all of this because honestly I have no idea if this is a good chowder or not. I know I liked it, I know my husband liked it.The kids not so much. It was not as rich as I’ve imagined chowders to be, but for me that is a good thing. I don’t tend to like soups that are too rich with cream.
I found the beginning of this soup in Moosewood Restaurant New Classics, and surprise! I actually did not adapt it too much. Very unusual for me. What really attracted me to the soup is–no surprise–the curry powder. I thought that might liven up the creaminess and I was right. I also threw the peas in–maybe that’s a chowder no-no?–and we all agreed they tasted right. Probably what I tried to do was turn this into an Indian fish chowder, since peas are a classic combo with potatoes in Indian cuisine. Whatever the case, if you like Indian food or chowders, I recommend this one.
- 1 T vegetable oil
- 2 medium-large onions, diced
- 4-6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 t salt
- 1 cup finely chopped celery
- 1 T curry powder
- ½ t turmeric
- ½ t ground black pepper
- 4 cups diced potatoes
- ½ cup diced carrots
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- ½ cup dry sherry or dry white wine
- 1 lb mild white fish fillets, such as hake, sole, or scrod
- 2 T cream cheese
- 1 cup milk or half-and-half
- 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, heat the oil on medium heat. Add the onions with a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Then add the garlic with some more salt (to taste) and cook another 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the celery and carrots and sauté for about 4 more minutes. Add the curry powder, turmeric, and black pepper and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the potatoes, stock, and sherry or wine.
Cover and bring to a boil; then reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes. Rinse the fish fillets and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Add them to the pot, cover, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the fish is no longer translucent. Remove from the heat.
In the meantime, use a blender to puree the cream cheese and milk or half-and-half. Add some of the soup and puree. Stir the puree back into the soup. Taste for salt and pepper--or lemon juice. Add the peas and heat through gently before serving.
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