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Friday, March 8, 2013

Whitefish and Potato Chowder

I love to cook with almost any type of fish, but one of the most versatile and flavorful choices in the fish counter would have to be whitefish.  The medium-firm meat is higher in fat content which makes it an excellent choice for smoking or grilling, and also makes it difficult to overcook.  The meat holds together very well, so it works great in soups and chowders.

Tonight we used whitefish as the base of a hearty potato-vegetable soup.  Nothing too fancy here, just a handful of ingredients that let the flavor of the fish and potatoes shine through.  We used the lower starch Yellow Gold Potatoes for this chowder since they add such a nice yellow color to the soup, without the heavier texture you get from russet potatoes.

There's even a little bacon in the chowder because, well, everything tastes better with a bit of bacon! Of course, if you like things a bit more spicy, we have a solution for you, too.  My husband added several drops of Tabasco sauce to his bowl of chowder and he really enjoyed the extra heat.

This is a really easy soup to prepare and the mild flavors just might get your kids to eat more fish, which is always a good thing!  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

1 lb  Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup  Half and Half
1 cup  Milk
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper

1/3 lb  Thick Cut Bacon, diced
2 TB  Butter
1 medium  Onion, diced
1 stalk  Celery, diced
1/2 small  Red Pepper, cleaned and diced
1/2 small  Yellow Pepper, cleaned and diced
2 TB  Flour
1 cup  Dry White Wine
1 tsp  Dried Thyme
1-1/2 cups  Chicken Broth
1 bottle  Clam Juice
1 can  Yellow Corn, drained
1-1/2 lbs  Whitefish Fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces
Tabasco Sauce or Fresh Dill or Parsley for garnish

Place the potatoes, half and half and milk in a medium soup pot.  Add salt and pepper and cook the potatoes over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes simmer.  Lower the heat to medium-low and cook 7 minutes longer, or until potatoes are cooked through and tender.  Be sure not to let the potatoes come to a full boil, so you do not scorch the milk.

While the potatoes cook, fry the bacon in a large pot over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.  Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the fat, then add the butter to the pan, and reduce the heat to medium.  When the butter melts and becomes foamy, add the onions, celery and peppers, and stir together.  Saute the vegetables for 3 minutes, or until softened, then add the flour and stir to coat the vegetables.  Add the wine and thyme to the pot and cook for 5 minutes until the mixture reduces and thickens, then add the broth, clam juice and corn to the pot and stir.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes.

When the vegetables are soft, use a slotted spoon to remove half of the potatoes from the soup pot  and add the potatoes to the chowder.  Place the rest of the potatoes and milk into a blender and puree until smooth.  (You could also use an immersion blender for this step.)  Pour the potato mixture into the chowder and stir everything together. 

Add the whitefish to the chowder, pushing the fish down into the broth, turn the heat off and cover the pot.  Let the chowder rest for 5 - 6 minutes, then check the fish for doneness.  If the fillets are off-white and flake easily with a fork, they are fully cooked.  If the fish is not quite cooked, push the fish back into the broth and cover for a few minutes longer.

Serve the chowder in large bowls with strips of pepper, a sprinkle of fresh parsley or dill or a few drops of Tabasco Sauce for extra heat.  Serves about 6.  Enjoy!!

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