I once heard someone who hails from Boston, Massachusetts proclaim that we should all forget about Taco Tuesday. “Where I come from, it’s always Chowdah Chooseday!” (Repeat it out loud, now, in your best Boston accent.) I’m thinking of him today as we suffer through another bitterly cold winter day, and I know the only antidote is a bowl or three of this delicious, thick and creamy chowder. My Nova Scotia roots are shining loud and proud in this recipe; you can tailor it to suit your seafood preferences – it is delicious with just haddock and decadent when you include lobster, lobster pâté and shrimp. Note that you can even make this gluten-free, if preferred! Serve it with a crusty loaf and a green salad and you’ll not miss those tacos one bit.
- 5 tablespoons (75 mL) butter, divided
- 1 cup (250 mL) diced onion
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) minced garlic
- ¾ cup (185 mL) diced celery
- ½ cup (125 mL) diced carrots
- 1 cup (250 mL) vegetable stock
- 2 cups (500 mL) water
- 2 cups (500mL) peeled, chopped potatoes (in 3/4 inch / 2 cm pieces)
- ¼ teaspoon (2.5 mL) each dried oregano and summer savoury
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon each salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 tablespoons (60 mL) flour (use sweet rice flour for gluten-free version)
- 1 cup (250 mL) milk
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) cream cheese or marscapone
- 1 – 2.6 oz/75 g can lobster pâté (optional but really, really delicious)
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) vermouth (optional)
- 2 frozen haddock fillets (approximately 7 ounces / 200 grams) *
- 1 cup (250 mL) shelled small (but not cocktail sized) frozen shrimp (optional)
- 1 – 11oz/320g can frozen lobster meat, thawed (available at most grocery stores)
- Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
* Note: if not using any of the additional seafood, add another 2 – 3 haddock fillets
- Heat 2 tablespoons (30 mL) butter in a large pot over medium heat.
- Add onion and cook for 3 minutes until softened, stirring frequently.
- Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
- Add celery and carrot; cook 3 minutes more, stirring often.
- Add vegetable stock, water, potatoes and seasonings. Stir well then cover pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium and cook until potatoes are just tender (test with the tip of a sharp knife), about 10 minutes or less, stirring gently a few times.
- While potatoes are cooking, in a separate small pot, melt remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes or until flour is nicely incorporated and cooked.
- Gradually add milk to the butter and flour, a bit at a time, stirring or whisking vigorously, to create a smooth, thick white sauce. Add cream cheese or mascapone and cook for 3 about three minutes, until cheese has melted and fully blended in. Remove from heat and blend in lobster pâté and vermouth, if using.
- Meanwhile, cut fresh or partially defrosted fish fillets into one inch (2.5 cm) pieces. When potato is just barely tender, stir in haddock, shrimp, and lobster meat.
- Cover, and stir very gently a few times while cooking over medium heat for 5 – 6 minutes, until fish is opaque.
- Add white sauce and and stir very gently to blend. If the chowder is thicker than you prefer, add a little more milk. Heat for just a few minutes until it is steaming but not boiling. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Remove bay leaves. Serve in warmed bowls with a garnish of fresh parsley.