Fish and corn chowder

This hearty chowder, chock full of potatoes, corn, fish and bacon, gets a sweet note when corn stock stands in for fish stock.

Blue Kitchen
A fish chowder with a corn stock base. Serve with a leafy green salad.

In another life, I spent a lot of time in Nova Scotia, and various chowders were a happily regular part of my days. They would be based on whatever fish came in on the boats in the morning (often cod, hake or haddock) or whatever clams I dug, or even at particularly lavish moments, one or two lobsters. A fish stock made from the trimmings was usually the base. Everything would be completed with beautiful fresh local milk and butter.

Making this chowder reminded me of those times, of spending days in the salt air and the sun and dining on whatever I happened to forage or that our friends and neighbors caught or raised.

Honoring our Midwest life, rather than using a fish stock base, this chowder uses a simple corn stock. I think you will be pleased to have this corn stock recipe. It is definitely on the sweet side, warm and delicious, easy to prepare and eminently freezable. You’ll find it useful in many ways.

As with any chowder, this one will be delicious the first day and even better the next. Serve it with a leafy deep-green salad dressed with a garlicky vinaigrette.

I would say that the leftovers will last three or four days in the fridge, but, really, you won’t have leftovers.

Corn Stock
Makes about 8 cups

Eight fresh corn cobs (corns kernels removed)
1 small onion, peeled and cut in half
2 sprigs fresh sage
10 cups water

1. Strip the corn kernels off the cobs. Set aside one cup for the chowder.

2. Put the cobs in a big pot with the onion and the fresh sage. Pour the water over all. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, about 75 minutes.

3. Strain and it is ready to use. You may also freeze it for future use.

4. If you use a yellow corn, the stock will be a lovely golden color. If you use white or bi-color corn, the stock will be paler.

Fish and Corn Chowder
Serves 4 or more 

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 slices of bacon
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
4 cups corn stock
1 cup of fresh corn kernels (or you may use frozen – thawing before using)
2 cups of potatoes cut into 1-inch cubes
12 ounces white-fleshed, mild fish – we used 2 tilapia loins – cut into 2-inch chunks
1 cup whole milk
 reshly ground black pepper and salt

1. Cook the bacon in a big, heavy stock pot or Dutch oven over a medium flame. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, cool, crumble and set aside. Lightly wipe out the pot, leaving a bit of bacon fat. Add the olive oil and the butter and heat to medium. Add the onion, bay leaf and thyme, and sauté for 2 minutes. Then add the potatoes and sauté for a couple of minutes more. Add the corn. Sauté for a minute more.

2. Pour the corn stock over all and bring everything to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender – 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Remove about 1/3 of the soup and purée it in a blender. Return the purée to the pot and bring everything back to a gentle simmer. Stir in the reserved bacon.

4. Slide the fish chunks into the pot and simmer until they are just cooked through – a couple of minutes at most. Add the milk, stir carefully, adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper, and this is ready to serve.

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