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.”
The Arctic Char (or Wild Salmon) Chowder recipe sent in by Mike Cheliak for the Primal Blueprint Cookbook Challenge meets this definition and will undoubtedly unite both lovers of creamy broths and tomato based broths. Filled with generous chunks of fish and tomatoes, it is chowder that will satisfy your hunger and your need for Omega 3s and powerful antioxidants like lycopene. The bit of cream added at the end provides a delicious, rich texture but is entirely optional, as the chowder is just as flavorful without it.
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.
Unless you’re lucky enough to be Mike and have a brother who brings home wild-caught Arctic Char from his station in Canada’s Arctic North, the Arctic Char you’ll buy in a store is most likely farmed. Before you write off farmed Arctic Char completely, consider that two trusted sources, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Environmental Defense Fund list Arctic Char as a best choice for seafood consumption. It is a fish that provides high amounts of Omega-3s and is farmed in an ecologically responsible way, which minimizes contaminants. However, if you decide that farmed Arctic Char isn’t for you, or you can’t find it in your local seafood department, wild-caught Alaskan salmon is an even better choice and equally delicious in this chowder.
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.
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.