Chowder is different things to different people. Some insist that the word “clam” come before it or that potatoes be involved, some like a creamy broth (New England-style) and some like a broth flavored with tomatoes (Manhattan-style). We prefer the broad definition found in most culinary dictionaries that declares chowder to be “any thick soup containing chunks of food.”
Mike suggests using wild Arctic Char for this chowder, a fish that is related to both trout and salmon in looks and flavor. Its natural habitat is the icy waters of the ocean and higher altitude lakes in North America and Europe.
With a few simple steps – chop up vegetables, add canned tomatoes, broth and fish – you’ll have a pot simmering on your stove that is filled with rich flavors. We think you’ll be hard-pressed to find a chowder lover who doesn’t fall in love with this variation on a comforting classic.
1.5 pounds Arctic Char (or wild salmon). Thicker fillets are easier to cut into cubes.
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1-2 cups vegetable broth
28-ounce can crushed tomato (no salt added)
1/2 tsp thyme
1 whole bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
Make sure all bones are removed from the fish and typically for chowder, it’s best to also remove the skin. You can do this by using the tip of a sharp knife to separate the meat from the skin, or ask to have it done for you when you buy the fish. Cut the fish into 3/4 inch cubes and salt and pepper lightly.
Melt butter in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrots and cook for 5 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, thyme and bay leaf.
Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add the fish and cream. Mix to incorporate cream and then simmer, covered or uncovered, for another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaf. Adjust the seasoning if needed and if you have any fresh herbs on hand (tarragon or thyme are especially good) add a bit for extra flavor.