Sunday, January 5, 2014

Cod and Potato Chowder: Happy Comfort for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Chowder has been in my head for the past couple of weeks--put there from finally getting around to reading a book that has been on my 'to-read" list for a while now, "The Lost Art of Mixing" by Erica Bauermeister.  Since I devoured her has couple of books, especially "The School of Essential Ingredients"--the precursor of this novel, I am not sure what took me so long for this one. I did hear that it wasn't quite so food-centric as the first book, and while even if there are less food scenes in this book, Bauermeister still has the ability to craft food descriptions that linger. Like the cod chowder that the main character makes for end-of-the-year appointment with her accountant. 

Excerpt from "The Lost Art of Mixing" by Erica Bauermeister:

"Lillian collected the salt pork and butter and heavy cream from the walk-in refrigerator, thyme from a pot on the windowsill, dried bay leaves from a glass jar in the row arranged along the wall. She turned on the heat under the pot and added the salt pork, which softened and began to brown. Her stomach grumbled; she remembered she hadn’t eaten breakfast and cut a slice of bread, taking occasional bites as she sliced through the hard white flesh of the potatoes. 

She removed the cracklings from the pot and added butter and chopped onion, the smells rising up—onion never her favorite thing in the morning, but sometimes a chef didn’t have a choice. She poured in chicken stock and then dropped in the potatoes, bringing the liquid to a boil and stepping away while they cooked. No point in pot-watching."

"Sensing the time, Lillian grabbed a package wrapped in butcher paper and headed back out to the prep area. The chunks of potatoes had softened. She smashed one against the side of the pot to thicken the broth, and then unwrapped the package. As the white paper folded back, the smell of cod rose sinuously toward her, briny and green, the essence of old fishing nets and ocean waves." 

 Adding to that vivid description, it has been a windy, cooler than average, dry weather week--perfect chowder weather. But, it was Safeway putting wild Alaskan cod on sale for $5/lb on Friday that led me to believe it was fate that Cod and Potato Chowder grace my soup bowl this week. I used Lillian's chowder as inspiration, putting my own together from what sounded good and subbing in some Old Bay Seasoning and an extra touch of smoked paprika to replace the salt pork. 

Fragrant, rich and velvety, nothing says heaven like a bowl of chowder on a cool windy day!

"The taste flowed across his tongue, a mix of sea and sky, warm cream and softened onions." --Al, savoring his first bite of chowder from "The Lost Art of Mixing. 

Cod and Potato Chowder
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 6)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, strings peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning 
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, and cubed

4 cups light veggie broth or shrimp stock
2 cups clam juice

2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cod (or other firm white fish) fillets, skinless/boneless, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream (or non-dairy creamer)
fresh thyme and butter to garnish

Heat oil and butter in large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until softened, about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic, Old Bay and smoked paprika and cook for a minute or two more until very fragrant. 

Add the cubed potatoes, broth, clam juice, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper, to the pot. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are very tender, about 20-25 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, break several of the potato cubes up against the pot to thicken the broth. Add the milk and cream and cook uncovered, for another 10 minutes. Add the cod, return the soup to a simmer, and cook until the fish is just cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Season to taste with additional salt and black pepper. 

Serve in individual bowls garnished with more freshly ground black pepper, thyme leaves and a small pat of butter. 

Notes/Results: Chowder makes me happy--smooth. rich, slightly smoky and full of good flavor. It's also very easy to throw together with whatever you want like adding corn, white wine, other veggies to change it up a bit. Although I did use regular milk, I had non-dairy coconut creamer on hand which I used instead of cream. Same texture, less saturated fat, so a win. If you want a thicker chowder, you could omit some of the broth, but I like it a bit brothy--perfect to dip chucks of bread in. This more than satisfied my chowder desires--I would make it again.  

It's the typical holiday quiet time in the Souper Sundays kitchen but we do have friends  Mireille and Joanne with a couple of delicious soups to share.

Mireille, now of Chef Mireille's East West Realm shares this hearty Mexican Goat Stew and says, "I made this on Christmas Day and it was loved by one and all. However, the leftovers the next day tasted even better, as the flavors had further time to develop. You can reduce the quantity of chipotles if you cannot tolerate it as spicy.

Joanne of Eats Well With Others brings warming noodly bowls of Vegetarian Pho from a unique new cookbook and says, "I chose to dive into the world of Picture Cook with this Pho, which can be made with either a meat or veggie spin. I, of course, went the veggie route and could not have been happier. The broth is richly flavored with star anise, cinnamon, cloves, onion, and ginger, and is then stuffed with fun mix-ins like broccolini, rice noodles, and a spicy herb relish. And then it’s finished off with a drizzle of sriracha. Because, obviously. Chicken-less soup for the soul. Without a single surprise simmer. Gotta love it."

Thanks to Joanne and Mireille for joining in. If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the side bar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!  


  1. Chowder sounds fairly perfect for this super frigid weather we've been having! I'm warming up just thinking about it.

  2. I could use a hot bowl right now! (Frigid here as well.) How is the Island???? LOL

  3. We had hail! ;-) Very unusual--it was so loud too. Yep it's a 'brisk' high 60's-low 70's lately. hah! Good soup weather.

  4. You need lots of warm soup with the crazy weather you have been having Joanne! ;-)


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