Fish chowder is one of those things that I LOVE. It’s totally a guilty pleasure, full of dairy and potatoes and fish and other deliciousness. If I see it on a menu, I feel almost compelled to order it, but the madness had to end. I set out to make a version I could enjoy and feel a little less guilty about.
This version… this version is delicious, creamy, and so guilt free it could be eaten every day with a clean conscious. It has a slight hit of heat, but certainly not enough to overpower the delicate flavor of the fish. Roasted garlic lends an earthy flavor without the overpowering flavor of onion, and by roasting the cauliflower it brings out some subtle nuttiness.
I forgot an ingredients picture (whoops!) but I DID get a new lens for the old camera for my birthday. (Thanks Dad!!!) There is still a learning curve, but I think the pictures have improved!
– 4 stalks of celery
– 5 carrots
– A couple glugs of white wine (This can be left out)
– 1 head (yes, head) of garlic
– 1 head of cauliflower
– Shrimp shells or fish bones/heads if they are available. If not, no frets.
– 1 -2 tablespoons of fish sauce
– 1 -2 teaspoons of sriracha
– 1.5 to 2 pounds of white fish. I used cod, but haddock would also work beautifully.
– 10 to 12 cups of water
First things first, either chop up the celery and carrots pretty finely, or be lazy like me and throw them into the food processor.
Heat up some oil into a heavy duty pot; I like my Le Creuset for this. Once the oil is hot, throw in the carrots and the celery and let them cook until they start to get tender.
Once everything starts cooking a good bit, add a couple glugs of white wine and let it cook a bit. (This bit can be skipped.)
Okay, so this bit. If using shrimp shells, fish heads, or bones, but a fine mesh strainer on top of the aromatics to hold them. This will make it easier to separate them later. (If using bones, it would probably be a good idea to add some cheesecloth as well to make sure none of the bones escape into the pot.) If not, just add the water and adjust the level of fish sauce to taste.
Add the flavorful bits to the strainer.
And cover with 10 to 12 cups of water…
And cover the beast. This should simmer and extract all the delicious fishy flavor for a good bit. While the stock is getting all tasty and happy, time for some roasting.
I preheated my oven to 400 degrees. Peel a head of garlic, (CLICK THE LINK!!! It’s so handy!!!) and clean and rough chop a head of cauliflower. (Uh, somehow I forgot the pre-roasting picture. Duh.) Toss the garlic and cauliflower with a little oil, put it (together) on a parchment lined baking sheet, and throw it in the oven. Let it roast until the garlic is nice and soft, and the cauliflower is a little toasted and brown.
After a bit of time, once all the delicious flavor has been infused into the stock, pull the shells/bones/head out, and discard them.
Throw the cauliflower and garlic into the pot…
And cook it until the cauliflower and falling apart tender. NOW! The nutrients in cauliflower ARE water soluble, and will leach into the liquid that they cooked in. Since the liquid it’s cooked in will become the base for the soup, all the yummy nutrients will stay with the soup. Let it cool just a bit.
Blend the base. Either use a stick blender and just stick it in the pot and let it go, or use a regular blender and work in batches. Now, time for some seasoning. Add the fish sauce to taste. Add fish sauce, sriracha, and salt as is needed. It should be rich, creamy, salty, and very subtly spicy. Throw some heat under the base again.
Grab a couple cod or haddock filets…
Throw the cod into the pot whole and let the whole thing simmer for a bit, stirring gently every once in a while. As the fish cooks, the gentle stirring will break it apart into nice big chunks. Once the fish is done, (it will be JUST opaque) the chowder is done!
I liked it with a sprinkle of cilantro on top, but fresh dill would be fantastic too, or without herb all together. Enjoy!!