Cool weather and rain in the forecast make this a perfect week to cook a pot of warming seafood chowder. This recipe, with its creamy broth, delicate cod, smoky bacon, and fresh kale, has rich flavors and is simple to make. I developed it for the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch website, to entice people to try Pacific Cod, a sustainable fish that is terrific in chowder and tacos, and is not expensive. Atlantic cod is greatly overfished, so Pacific cod is a tasty alternative.
Recently we invited friends for a Spring Equinox dinner. The idea was to go for a full moon hike, and then return to our house for a meal, however It rained that evening. The hike was off, but dinner was not. It was cold and windy, and the chowder was the perfect antidote.
It’s a great dish for entertaining, the recipe doubles easily, and the broth can be made ahead. Before serving, simply bring the soup to a boil, add the fish and kale, and simmer until cooked through. To round out the menu I served it with a salad and my favorite cornbread, made with olive oil and flavored with fresh rosemary (alternatives I suggest in the recipe).
This chowder recipe is easy to adjust too, according to what is available in the market and the whimsy of the moment. When I shopped for the party the grocery store had only a small amount of Pacific cod left, but heaps of plump sea scallops, so I replaced some of the cod with scallops, which added a sense of luxury. The rainbow chard at the farmers’ market was so glossy and fresh; I decided to use it in place of the kale. The resulting soup was just as good as the original.
Cod Chowder with Kale and Yukon Gold Potatoes
- 4 thick-cut slices applewood-smoked bacon, about ¼ pound, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- 3 8- ounce bottles clam juice
- ½ cup water
- 1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, but into ½-inch pieces
- ¾ cup whipping cream
- Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1½ pounds Pacific cod, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 medium bunch kale, about 5 ounces, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
- Cook the bacon in a heavy large pot over medium heat until brown and crisp, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel and drain. Add the onion, bay leaves and thyme to the pot. Sauté until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the paprika. Add the clam juice, ½ cup water, and then the potatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer until the potatoes are just tender about 8 minutes.
- Add the cream and drained bacon to the chowder. Sprinkle the cod with salt and pepper. Add the cod and kale to the soup. Simmer until the fish is opaque in the center (to check, cut into a piece of fish with a small knife or break apart with a spoon), stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Ladle the chowder into warmed bowls and serve.
Recipe and photo first appeared on Seafood Watch website