Oven-Baked Fish Chowder

The Circle B Kitchen has been cooking and blogging for a couple of years now, and I’ve decided that it’s time for a little hiatus.  It seems a natural, even necessary part of any creative endeavor to pause once in a while and gather some new productive energy and seek renewed inspiration for the work.  

The Circle B Kitchen blog has been incredibly fun for me to produce, and I anticipate many more years of cooking, writing and photography ahead.   But for the next two months or so, I plan on getting the computer and photography equipment cleaned and serviced, and spend some unhurried time researching and creating new recipes to share with you.  And if you have a minute to check out the recipe index, you’ll maybe agree with me that the list is pretty long for 2-years’ work, and I’d really like to spend some time going back and cooking some of these amazing dishes again.

But before I take my leave, I want to be sure you have something lovely to keep you warm over the next couple of months.  And this chowder really is just the ticket.  It’s such an easy recipe (once you get everything chopped up) because it all just gets thrown into the pot and baked for an hour.  Add your milk and you’re done.

Well, almost.  It really just depends on how thick you like your chowders.  Personally, I like a medium to light chowder that isn’t too rich and heavy, but it must have enough body to actually qualify as a chowder in my world.  The original recipe (which is awesome, btw), turns out a fairly thin chowder, so I’ve amended the recipe to give you some options for thickening it up if you like.

But in the end, this is one of the best chowders I’ve had in recent memory, and I’m pretty sure you’ll be hooked too.  It’s just the thing to warm those chilly winter evenings and keep you snug and comfy til I get back in January.  Here’s the recipe…

Oven-Baked Fish Chowder

Click here for a printable recipe

Recipe adapted from Cooking.com

This recipe turns out a little thinner than a traditional chowder (more soup than chowder), so if you’d like yours a little thicker, see my notes at the end of the recipe.  I used whole milk, but I’m pretty sure that using half and half or even cream would make this a little thicker.  I used cod and it was really wonderful.  I also added 12 oz of chopped clams, which I highly recommend.

2 pounds cod, haddock or any firm white fish, bones removed
3 cups cubed russet potatoes
(I added 12 oz of chopped clams)
2 cups hot fish stock or water (I used Snow's bottled clam juice)
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (or 2)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (and more for finishing)
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, minced
Pinch of ground cloves
1 cup milk or light cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine all ingredients except milk and parsley in a heavy, 4-quart ovenproof soup pot.  Cover and bake until fish flakes into pieces and potatoes are tender, about 1 hour.

Transfer soup pot to stovetop. Slowly stir in milk. Simmer gently over low heat until rewarmed, about 5 minutes. Add parsley.  Finish with a healthy grinding of cracked black pepper and serve with fresh, crusty bread.

Note: to thicken the chowder, do not add the butter with the rest of the ingredients.  After you take the pot out of the oven, melt the butter and mix it with 2 to 3 tablespoons of flour (depending on how thick you would like it) and 1 ¼ cups of milk.  Whisk this into the soup and use the whisk to mash a few of the potatoes.  Bring the soup back to a boil and let it simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes.  Remove it from the heat and let it sit for another 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, and then stir in your parsley.  Taste for salt and pepper. The longer it sits, the thicker it will get. And it's even better the next day.

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