New England Fish Chowder
• 3 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless fish
• 1/4 pound meaty salt pork — cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch dice
• 4 tablespoons butter
• 2 large onions — cut into 3/4-inch dice
• 3 bay leaves
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
• 3 to 4 large boiling potatoes — peeled and halved lengthwise, then cut into 1/4-inch slices
• 3 cups strong fish stock — or 2 cups bottled clam juice diluted with 1 cup cold water
• 2 cups heavy cream
• salt and freshly ground pepper — to taste
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chervil — (optional)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
- Leave the fish in as large pieces as possible, since it tends to break up when the chowder is stirred.
- In a large flameproof casserole, render the salt pork until it begins to turn crisp. Add the 4 tablespoons of butter with the onions, bay leaves, and thyme.
- Cook the mixture for 5 minutes or until the onions are soft but not brown. Add potatoes and fish stock or diluted clam juice, and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Lower the heat and simmer the potatoes for 20 minutes or until they are tender.
- Remove the bay leaves from the stock. Add the fish and heavy cream.
- Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer 8 to 10 minutes or until fish is cooked through and beginning to flake. Add salt and pepper, stir in the parsley and chervil, if using, and remove the soup from the heat.
- With a slotted spoon, transfer the chunks of fish, onions, and potatoes to soup plates.
- Ladle the hot broth into the bowls. Add a tablespoon of butter to each soup plate and serve with crackers, crusty bread, or biscuits.