Dad’s Fish Chowder

One of my favorite things to do as a kid was hang around the adult’s table and overhear conversation at family gatherings. Over a glass of wine and the remaining desserts, the adults would chat about everything from current events and politics to grocery shopping and cars. I learned a lot about their points of view just by sitting quietly!

Similarly, when I would get home from school and my dad would be getting up from his nap (his radio show went live at 5:30 am), we would sit at the kitchen table and share some soup, an English muffin, and always great conversation. My dad was hilarious and one of a kind, and I could sit at the table and talk to him forever! He loved soup, and this recipe is an adaptation of one he created and my mom and he made many times. It’s not really a traditional chowder because it’s brothy, not thickened, but it is hearty and filling, with potatoes, carrots, corn and chunks of fresh cod. You can also add shrimp or other seafood you love. Cook up a batch and share it with your loved ones, along with a nice glass of white wine, of course…

One bowl may not be enough, but it’s ok. This recipe makes a big pot.

Dad's Fish Chowder
Recipe type: Soup, Entree
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-6
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bunch leeks or 1 large yellow onion, peeled and small diced
  • 5 carrots, peeled and small diced
  • 3 stalks celery, small diced
  • 2 pounds thin-skinned potatoes, such as red or Yukon gold, medium diced
  • 7 cups homemade or your favorite store-bought chicken stock
  • 1½ cups frozen corn kernels (white and yellow corn combinations seem to be sweeter and great for this)
  • 1 teaspoon bouquet garni (This is a spice blend from Penzey's that contains savory, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, dill, marjoram, sage and tarragon. In a pinch use fresh or dried thyme and the soup will still be delicious.)
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 1 pound cod or other white fish, sliced into large (4-inch) pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  1. In a large Dutch oven or stockpot, place butter and oil over medium heat until the butter melts.
  2. Prepare your leeks, if using, by trimming off dark green parts and discarding. Slice the remaining parts thinly. Soak the sliced leeks vigorously in a big bowl of water, separating the rings with your fingers. Then skim the cleaned leeks from the top of the bowl, leaving any sand at the bottom. Toss the leeks or the onions into the pot and begin to sweat them for about 2-3 minutes. You want them softened, but not browned, so adjust heat down if necessary.
  3. Add diced carrots and celery and continue to sweat the vegetables for 5 more minutes. Add a pinch of Kosher salt and a a few turns of fresh cracked pepper.
  4. Add diced potatoes and toss well with other vegetables. Cook 4 minutes more.
  5. Add chicken stock, bring the soup to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. I just test one with a fork.
  6. Add frozen corn kernels, milk, more salt and pepper, and bouquet garni or thyme and bring soup up to a simmer again. Taste for seasoning to make sure it's great so far.
  7. Gently place the pieces of cod in the soup and allow the fish to gently cook for about 4 minutes, until you see it turns opaque and will push apart with your cooking spoon.
  8. Ladle soup into bowls and enjoy.



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2 thoughts on “Dad’s Fish Chowder

    • I would love to hear about some of those recipes and try them someday! Open the vault! I remember a few from your clan that I have not had as delicious anywhere else: stuffed clams, pasta with shellfish fra diavolo, your vodka sauce, stuffed mushrooms, and the goat cheese, caramelized onions and figs appetizer you made one Christmas. That one inspired me to make my own version, but I still think yours was the best!

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