A few weeks ago when I made ceviche I chopped a little too much halibut, scallops and shrimp and so froze some in a ziplock bag to make seafood chowder with another day. Tonight, I came across that little frozen white lump while rummaging around for ice for my coffee.
For some reason, seafood chowder seems like a summery meal (all that fish), when in fact it’s better suited to a cooler fall or winter day (all that heat). As if we weren’t melting enough before dinner, now we’re practically puddles on the floor.
But it was tasty. When I go to make something like this, something that I don’t often make, I flip through a few books and search a few sites to see what people in the know are doing with it. I read about New England Fish Chowder from 50 Chowders: One-Pot Meals — Clam, Corn & Beyond, in which it is referred to as “the gold standard of chowders”, but which only used fish, onions and potatoes; no corn or other seafood. I found a similar recipe for corn chowder, this time thickened with flour and flavoured with garlic, in The New Best Recipe put out by Cooks Illustrated (a truly fantastic resource, sort of a new-era Joy of Cooking; it explains everything, experiments and illustrates what happens if you do this or that). In the end I sort of morphed what I had read with what I would have done had I just winged it to begin with – soups are easy to do that way. I let the potatoes thicken the broth rather than use flour, and added just half a cup of half & half at the very end to make it creamy without being as crazy high-fat as those versions made with copious amounts of heavy cream.