Sunday, September 21, 2014

Nigel Slater's Quick Fish & Corn Chowder: A Gorgeous Bowl of Comfort for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

This Quick Fish and Corn Chowder is subtitled as "a soup to warm the cockles of your heart." With the seemingly endless hot and humid weather we have been having, the cockles of my heart, or any other part of me are not in any need of warming. Still, there is something oh-so-comforting about a fish chowder, studded with new potatoes and fresh corn, regardless of the weather outside. Nigel Slater has quite a few chowder-ish recipes, but I liked this one for its simplicity.

Nigel's recipes are always easy to adapt and a good starting place to jump off from. My additions / changes to his recipe sketch are noted in red below.

Quick Fish & Corn Chowder
Adapted from Nigel Slater via The Guardian/Observer online
(Serves 4)

The Recipe:
Scrub 400g (14 oz) of new potatoes, then halve or quarter them depending on their size. Peel and roughly chop an onion, put it in a large deep pan, then add 500ml (17 oz) of water and 500ml (17 oz) of milk. Bring to the boil, with a coarse grinding of pepper and a couple of bay leaves. Lower the heat so the liquid simmers and, when the onion is soft, introduce 400g (14 oz) of mixed fish, such as salmon, cod and smoked haddock cut into large cubes, and continue to cook on a low heat for 10 minutes.

Slice the kernels from a head of sweetcorn and drop them into the pan. Roughly chop two spring onions and a small bunch of parsley, and stir them into the soup carefully, without breaking up the fish, then serve as soon as the corn is tender.
The Trick:
You could use one of the ready-prepared assortments of fish meant for fish pie if it is more convenient. The soup is a calming, delicate version, but sustaining enough to be a light main dish. It is important not to stir the chowder too much as it cooks, which would result in the fish breaking up.

The Twist:
I sometimes like to add a handful of mussels or clams to the soup once the fish has almost reached tenderness. Finely sliced leeks can work well instead of the onion. To give the soup a sweeter note, cook the onion or leek in a little butter and oil until it is soft, before adding the milk. You could stir in a little tarragon or dill, finely chopped, into the soup near the end of the cooking time.

(Deb's Changes: I made my base leeks, a bit of leftover red onion and a couple of celery stalks that I softened in a dab of butter and olive oil before adding the potatoes. I used about 2+lbs of potatoes--a mix of red new and small Yukon Gold. To the black pepper and bay leaves I added a teaspoon of Old Bay Seasoning because I am very into it lately. ;-) My mix of fish was two kinds of salmon from my freezer, local opah (moonfish) and a sprinkling of hot smoked salmon--added at the end with the fresh corn. I omitted the spring onions and topped the soup with the chopped parsley and tarragon (also an obsession lately), stirred in at the end with a touch more to garnish.)

Notes/Results: Simple but still chowder nirvana in my book--flavorful and indulgent. I like my chowder served in a big deep bowl to spoon down into and accompanied by a couple of slices of baguette to soak up the broth. And this broth is rich and velvety and very soak-up-able and the smoky spice of the Old Bay Seasoning just peeks through. I love the different textures of the fish--the salmon is silky, the Opah, firmer, and the little pieces of smoked salmon slightly chewy and bursting with flavor. The veggie base is good with the firmer celery and corn, with the onions and leek softer and smoother. The pop of flavor from the tarragon works well too. Yep, this bowl of chowder made me very happy--quick, simple, gorgeous to look at and a taste that makes you want to lick the bowl. I would definitely make it again.  

This bowlful of goodness is being linked up to I Heart Cooking Clubs this coming week for the Ladle It Up! theme--featuring soups, stews, curries, etc. You can see what everyone put into their bowls by checking out the picture links on the post.

We have soups and salads and good friends waiting in the Souper Sundays kitchen, let's have a look. 

Janet of The Taste Space shares this made-with-oats bowl of Mushroom Ginger Congee and says, "Traditionally congee is made with rice to make a porridge-like consistency and flavoured and garnished with as much or as little as you want. I noticed Kate Lewis’ photo in the book had additional mushrooms and green onions as garnishes, so I added that to mine. Not merely photogenic, it added a nice depth of flavour, too. I think a bit of toasted sesame oil would be lovely, too. I was never super convinced oats could hold savoury flavours so well, but this was delicious.

It is always a treat to have my friend Kat of Our Adventures in Japan pay a visit to Souper Sundays. She made "Using Up the Veggies in the Fridge (and Lanai) Soup." Kat says, "Last week, I had wanted to use up all the veggies in my fridge. ... Envisioning fried renkon (lotus root) chips, I fried thinly sliced pieces. Unfortunately, I drained them on a paper towel and they kind of steamed, so they weren't too crispy. After setting aside the renkon, I sauteed some kale from the lanai with some red bell pepper in some olive oil. I ladled a bowl of the pumpkin soup and then topped it with the renkon, kale, red bell and then sliced some okra. Dinner was served."

Mireille of Chef Mireille's East West Realm has a soup and salads from Burma/Myanmar to share this week. First, this Burmese Chickpea Soup. She says, "It is a taste bud tantalizing explosion of flavors. ... Soups and salads form the backbone of Burmese cuisine. On a recent repeat episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, it was interesting to note the variety of salads and sauces served with soups and curries. A variety of pickled and fresh salads were added to curries and soups to give Burmese food their complexity of flavors. Up to a dozen different salads and condiments is not uncommon to accompany meals."

Topping Mireille's soup are two Burmese salads--Long Bean Salad and Grated Carrot Salad and some traditional condiments. She says, "While Burmese soups and curries for which they are known are flavorful, what gives them their umami is the large variety of condiments and salads that their foods are topped with. Here are just a few to give your food the umami achieved with the cuisine from the republic of Myanmar. These were very familiar to me as many of these are also used in Indonesian cooking which I am familiar with due to my Indonesian family and I enjoyed this meal thoroughly."

Joanne of yummyvege is back this week with a healthy and satisfying Fruity Quinoa Salad with Tempeh. She says, "I know you’re all getting into the autumn thing and eating pumpkin and thinking about taking your jumpers out of the cupboard, but here it’s still roasting hot, so I’m still eating summery food. Salads, things that require as little cooking as possible, there’ll be plenty of stews and baking in due course but for now I have another salad for you. This one is a great mix of sweet and savoury and it’s a complete meal. Both the quinoa and the tempeh contain protein and there are healthy fats in the avocado. The sweetness comes from the dates, the orange and the concentrated apple juice. And the best part is that it all comes together in about half an hour if you don’t count the marinading time."

Pam of Sidewalk Shoes brings us two salads this week. First, this hearty Broccoli Quinoa Salad and also shares her formula for a great grain salad saying, "It is composed of a grain, a veggie, greens, fruit, and nuts.  So you could have a quinoa, broccoli salad with spinach, grapes and pumpkin seeds – like I have here.  Or you could have a barley, carrot salad with kale, apples and sunflower seeds.  See, how easy it is!  For my dressing I use my standard juice of one lemon mixed with equal parts olive oil.  But you could even vary that, substituting orange juice, or any type of vinegar for the acid.  You could even change up the oil and use a nut oil, or sesame oil.  The possibilities are endless!"

Pam's second dish is a fall-ready Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Pears Salad. She says, "With my last CSA pickup, we received a couple of handfuls of brussels sprouts. Not enough to make a Brussels sprouts recipe. Since they looked so fall to me, I decided to mix them with another fall item – pears. I thought that the flavors might complement each other – and they did. I realize that I called this a salad and you are looking at what looks like just some roasted pieces on parchment paper. What I had envisioned was then tossing these roasted Brussels sprouts and pears with some romaine lettuce and adding some dried cranberries and a light vinaigrette. I got lazy. I still think the salad would be yummy, but I just served these straight off the baking sheet and they were so good!"

Thanks to everyone who joined in this week. If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the sidebar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week! 


  1. A great round-up!! Love the sound of your soup!

  2. That chowder looks so good! So colourful.

  3. Maybe Nigel also meant warm your soul and not just physical warmth. If so, I think you did good with this! Total comfort food.

  4. I agree with you that Nigel's recipes are easy to adapt...I love what you've done with this one. It looks delicious!

  5. This soup looks lovely. This is just the right kind of food I am craving for now, as I have a bad sore throat right now. I loved the addition of mussels or clams and leeks. Going to make this soon!

  6. Hi Deb,
    You are the queen of soup! All your soup looks really delicious! And I like it how you made changes to suit your own taste! With the addition of leeks and celery stalks, sounds so flavourful!

  7. You ARE the queen of soup. I love chowder so much but have really been struggling lately with being able to eat dairy. Do you think a dairy free "chowder" is even possible?
    Love the colors in these photos!

  8. You ARE the queen of soup. I love chowder so much but have really been struggling lately with being able to eat dairy. Do you think a dairy
    free "chowder" is even possible? Love the colors in these photos!

  9. I made the exact same soup from Nigel. I like your changes better than mine.

  10. It's fisch chowder week at ICC this week ;-)

  11. Nigel's fish chowder looks like a winning recipe. I love that you added the old bay seasoning. I love the flavors in that seasoning and have been using it an egg salad recipe that is delicious.

    Love Pam's formula for a good grain salad. She's certainly shared two very pretty salads this past week. I'm pretty sure I could eat the broccoli and quinoa salad everyday.

  12. Grace-Life can be simpleSeptember 28, 2014 at 8:35 PM

    I agree, with or without the heat, fish chowder is always welcoming as it's so hearty and homely. I love your rendition of Nigel's fish chowder :)

  13. Couscous & ConsciousnessSeptember 29, 2014 at 8:44 PM

    Oh yes, that would definitely warm the cockles of my heart. I love a good chowder, and this one looks like a winner. I love your variations, Deb - if only we could get old bay seasoning here - especially the addition of the tarragon. Pinning this one to try for a Friday night fish supper one night soon.


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