fish chowda’

The ponds are starting to freeze over, the wind is beginning to bite and snow is only a matter of time…warm soup and warm bread – good for the bones and soul (especially on a cold December night, in Maine).

Around here people say, ‘fish chowda’, not fish chowder. You’ll find this soup (or a variation thereof) on just about every menu in the state of Maine (ok, not every menu), but a lot, that’s for certain…yet, it’s far less expensive to prepare and enjoy at home. A few basic ingredients, some white fish and a bit of time is all you need. Prepare in the morning (if possible) and let stand all day…like any soup, time only enhances the flavors and textures…

Fish and Potato Chowder

What you’ll need;

chowda ingredients


2 tbsp. butter

1 medium onion, chopped

1 leek, chopped (no leeks? replace medium onion, above, with 1 large)

2 tbsp. flour

3.5 cups whole milk (whole milk only)

1 – 2 bay leaf

small handful chopped fresh parsley

1 pound haddock (or any mild flavored white fish – smoked fish also works brilliantly)

1 – 2 pounds potatoes – cooked and smashed – the more potatoes, the thicker the soup…

1 good pour heavy cream

course salt + freshly ground pepper

Peel (or not – depends if you like skins in your soup) potatoes. Cut. Boil for 20 minutes or until soft enough to be pierced, gently…drain and smash with a bit of butter, dash of milk and a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.

smashed potatoes

While the potatoes are boiling away, melt butter (I use a bit more than this recipe calls for – butter is so tasty) in a large heavy bottom pot, over medium heat, add onion and leek and saute until slightly softened and lightly browned. Meanwhile,

Mix the flour in a small bowl with enough of the milk to make a smooth paste, then stir into pot, (stirring constantly – you don’t want the roux to burn) until paste is thoroughly blended with the onions (about 2-3 minutes), then gradually stir in the remaining milk.

adding milk

Add the bay leaf and parsley and season to taste tie salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for about 15 – 20 minutes.

added parsley

Rinse fillets under water, pat dry, then cut into large (the fish will likely break into smaller pieces once in the soup) chunks. Add to the soup and cook for 15 minutes, or until fish is tender and cooked right though.

adding fish

Add the smashed potatoes and stir in cream. Simmer just 5 minutes more. Remove bay leaf, season with salt and pepper to taste.

simmering soup

Ladle into warm bowls, serve with fresh, warm – crusty bread, and salad or greens…add a glass of red wine and candlelight – deliciousness and heartiness for under $10. Serves 4 – 6.

bowl of chowda

Fish and potato soup adapted from The Fish & Seafood Cookbook – From Ocean to Table, 2005.