In the fish markets in Italy, truly local seafood is labeled nostrani “ours.” The idea is to make this hearty, delicious chowder using the best of your own local ingredients, given the season, what you catch, and what you can find at the market. Where I live in Minnesota, the local fish probably would be walleye, along with sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers and herbs. Any common winter-caught fish will do, though. Pike and burbot are wonderful as are crappies, bluegills or perch. I serve a cold, crisp white wine and buttery French bread with the chowder.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
- 4 strips bacon
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- ¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 cups homemade chicken broth or low-salt canned broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups whole milk
- ½ red and ½ green pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
- 4 or 5 ears sweet corn – hucked with corn kernels cut from the cob to equal about 3 cups (or substitute frozen)
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups fish cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon chopped chives
- 1 teaspoon chopped basil
- 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1. In a large soup kettle, fry the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon. In the same pan (with the bacon fat), add the onion and celery and cook over medium heat until soft. Meanwhile, chop the bacon and reserve.
2. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables, stirring and cooking for about 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Add the potatoes, chicken stock, bay leaf, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, then bring the mixture to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.
4. Add the milk, sweet peppers, corn, and walleye. Cook the soup at almost a simmer, about 8 to 10 minutes, but don’t let it boil again. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste and, possibly, a dash of Tabasco or a splash of wine.
5. Just before serving, stir in the bacon and the herbs, or just sprinkle them on top.