Fish Chowder

In addition to the standard turkey and all its accoutrements, my family has another Thanksgiving tradition: crab cakes. Thanksgiving falls just after the start of Dungeness crab season here in San Francisco, and so for the past couple of years, we’ve spent one of the days of Thanksgiving weekend cracking, picking, and cake-ing some local crab legs. This usually leaves us with a pile of crab shells stacked high on the kitchen table, and this year, we decided to stuff them in a big pot and simmer them for stock.

There was just one problem: It turns out I don’t traditionally make things where fish stock makes sense. Which of my go-to recipes use stock at all? Chili. And the idea of chili with fish stock was a little squicky, so since November, I’ve had several baggies full of frozen stock taking up space in the freezer.

Fish Chowder

(Yeah, I need to stop making yellow food and photographing it in yellow bowls.)

In retrospect, soup seems like the obvious solution, but it wasn’t until I spotted this fish chowder recipe that I felt motivated to make it happen. The corn was what got me; I see myself eating a lot of corn between now and when it goes out of season. But the flavor that really worked in the finished soup was the thyme. Use it liberally — it tastes lovely in here.

Looking at the recipe, I was worried it didn’t include enough liquid to take this from soup to stew, but it turned out to be just about perfect. We had thawed a little extra stock, though, just in case, and I’d recommend having some on hand if you’re going to keep any of this as leftovers. If anything, the flavor was better the second day, but the liquid had almost all absorbed/evaporated, so I just dumped the extra cup or so of stock into the pot when I reheated it, and that thinned it out nicely.

Fish Chowder
(Adapted from Generation Y Foodie)

1 lb. fish filet (we used tilapia; any whitefish would probably work)
3 ears of corn
1/2 lb. potatoes, cut into chunks
3-4 celery stalks, diced
1 onion, diced
2 slices bacon, diced
12 oz. fish stock
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. milk
2 Tablespoons fresh thyme (or more to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Grill, roast, or otherwise cook your corn and remove the kernels from the cob
2. In a large saucepan or pot (we used our dutch oven), saute the diced bacon, then add the onion and cook together until the onion softens
3. Add the celery and saute until it starts to soften (about another 3 minutes)
4. Add the fish filet and lightly brown (about 2 minutes per side). Remove from the pot and cut into chunks
5. Add the corn, then the potatoes, and saute about 5 more minutes
6. Add the stock, cream, milk, salt and pepper, and the thyme and simmer for 10 minutes, covered
7. Add the fish chunks and simmer for another 10-12 minutes, uncovered
8. Top with lots of black pepper and dried or chopped fresh thyme

Served with some of our toasted spent grain herb bread, we got five servings out of this recipe.

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