Fennel & Seafood Chowder Recipe
When I was around 5 or 6 years old growing up in Canada, my family moved next door to the Patterson family. The Patterson’s had two boys: Mike and Steve. Mike was one year younger and Steve one year older than I.
Similar age, same gender, lived close, OK all criteria for position of best friend filled: let’s play….and play we did, usually in the forest that covered their small property. We played war games, hide and seek, climbed trees, dug caves, built forts, you name it we did it. It was an ideal childhood playground, albeit at times cold and wet.
After hours of being out there, the remaining daylight would start to fade to a dim grey, we would listen with contradictory feelings as Mrs Patterson’s voice would call out “Boys, dinners ready”.
Upon finally getting into the house, Mrs P. would say, “Hurry up boys get into that bathroom and cleaned up so we can all eat.” Walking on my toes as I passed by the kitchen table I saw that it was my favorite dish at the Patterson’s, creamy seafood chowder. We all hurried into the bathroom and crowded around the basin and quickly passed the bar of soap around warming our pink hands under the running water.
Sitting peering over the rim of the bowl I relished the idea of ladling that chunky broth into me. I didn’t know what half the things swimming in my bowl were and I didn’t care, except for octopus – I didn’t like the idea of an octopus in my food. The only octopus I knew of up to then was the one from Saturday morning cartoons and I didn’t want to eat it.
We would hollow out the middle of our warm crusty bread rolls and scoop the thick soup into them, eating the whole thing as it ran down our hands. Mrs Patterson never told us to watch the mess we made by eating it this way, it was absolute heaven for us kids.
Over the years Mrs. P. taught me how to make this lovely soup and aside from the fennel and wine it hasn’t changed a bit. I still cook it a few times every winter and when I do I check if anyone is looking and pull a big chunk out of my bread roll, I fill’er up and stuff it all in my mouth, it is heaven on a cold winters day.
If you don’t like a certain seafood or can’t find an ingredient that I have used here, feel free to substitute. Just as I have tweaked Mrs Patterson’s seafood chowder recipe a little, feel free to tweak mine.
Fennel and Seafood Chowder
- 1 onion finely diced
- 1 stalk celery finely diced
- 1 small leek finely diced
- 1/2 head fennel finely diced, save fronds and set aside
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 tablespoon thyme
- 150 grams baby clams tinned, drained weight
- 100 grams baby shrimp peeled
- 200 grams white fish boneless, cut into small-bite sized pieces
- 375 milliliters fish stock clam broth can be incorporated into this measurement
- 1/4 cup crispy bacon chopped
- 750 milliliters fresh cream
- 250 grams potatoes diced
- 1 tablespoon flour
- black pepper freshly ground
- Rub 1 tbsp of butter into a couple tablespoons of flour.
- In a medium sauce pan, pour the cream and put over medium heat.
- Once cream is warm, whisk in the flour and butter mix, leave on low flame.
- In a medium sized heavy based pot over medium-high heat put a couple tbsps of butter and sauté off the onion, celery, fennel, leek, garlic until soft and translucent add a little cracked black pepper.
- Increase the heat to high, add the white wine and reduce.
- Add the cream and stock and it bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the potatoes, thyme and bacon and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Add the clams, shrimp, fish and ¾ cup of water.
- Simmer a further 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and the fish has cooked through.
- Taste for seasoning and serve with a sprinkle of the fennel fronds
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