The Smoked Haddock Chowder took a few goes to perfect. First couple of goes, it was too thin for hubby's preference. He likes his Chowder to be really thick and creamy, which is fair enough, as having tasted the two versions I have to agree. The thick and creamy version is way more indulgent than it's alternative. Having cracked that aspect of it (by increasing the amount of flour), he then announced that the potato in the soup was unpalatable for him. So, out went the traditional potato and in came Cannelini beans. I have to say that I'm happy with it either way, but the Cannelini beans are a perfect replacement for the potato, so that's fine.
From the cook's perspective, I love making this soup. It's a one-pot deal (well, if you don't count heating up some bread!) which, provided you get all your preparation done before you start cooking, means that you can stand (or sit, in my case) and stir and add lovely ingredients, then stir some more, then add some more, tasting all the time. The soup, once you're past the roux stage, tastes great but just keeps on getting better with every new ingredient you add. Until, the culmination of them all, you add the fish and suddenly the flavour is just out of this world.
I've decided that, if ever I'm called upon to demonstrate any cooking skills, this is the one I'd make! It is one of those soups that, once the family start eating, all that can be heard is "mmmmn...".
I have, since posting this, developed the recipe a little. For the new, healthier and quicker version (complete with printable recipe) see here!
SMOKED HADDOCK CHOWDER (serves 3-4)
- knob of butter
- 3 rashers of streaky bacon, chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 leek, sliced fine
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 2 pints full cream milk
- 200g tin of Cannelini beans in water, drained
- 400g skinned & de-boned smoked haddock fillets (about 2)
- 140g sweetcorn from a tin or frozen
- a handful of frozen peas
- 100ml fish stock (cube is fine)
- lots of freshly ground black pepper
- a pinch of cayenne pepper
- chopped parsley, to serve
Heat the butter in a large saucepan. Tip in the bacon, then cook until starting to brown. Add the onion, cook for 2-3 mins, then the leek and sweat until soft.
Sprinkle over the 3 tbsp flour and mix through. Cook for 1 minute or so.
Pour in the stock and whisk gently, adding the milk bit by bit, stirring like mad to remove any lumps.
Add the beans and bring to the boil, stirring all the time to prevent it sticking and ultimately burning. Season, including adding the cayenne pepper, to taste. Simmer for 5 mins stirring all the time.
Add the sweetcorn and peas and cook for 2-3 minutes, bringing back up to heat, still stirring. You may well find that you need to keep adding milk as you go, to maintain the consistency you like. I usually have around a quarter of a pint left from 2 pints.
It is good if the soup is slightly thick when you add the fish, as sometimes it can release water. So, add the haddock, turn the heat right down to tickover, then leave to gently poach for another 5-10 mins. As it cooks, break it into large chunks and slowly increase the heat to bring back up to temperature – but don’t forget to stir!
Scatter over parsley, if using.
Serve in warmed bowls, with plenty of crusty bread.