Fishy chowders

is there anything more comforting on a winter day than a hot bowl of seafood chowder?

As the winds begin to blow all the leaves off the trees and the snow level gradually descends down the mountains around the valley to the bottom, thoughts of warm and comforting soups come to mind.

And, there’s nothing quite so comforting as a bowl of hot seafood chowder on a blustery day.

I know we don’t live next to the sea, but with good highways and dedicated seafood providers, we might as well be, for the fresh fish we have available to us here, now. It wasn’t always that way.

But, now that we do have great, fresh seafood available, it’s become important that we do our part to ensure we always will have fresh seafood to include in our diets.

That means we are responsible to look for the Ocean Wise logo wherever we buy or eat seafood, to be sure that fish has been caught in a manner that’s sustainable; that doesn’t include bycatch tossed overboard as waste or in any way that will end up depleting the marine life of our oceans.

Ocean Wise is a program of the Vancouver Aquarium, where this week it’s being celebrated with a Chowder Chowdown by a dozen chefs and their favourite ocean-friendly chowder recipes, including two from the Okanagan.

Codfather’s resident chef, Tyler Groenestyn is one, and Local chef Paul Cecconi is the other. Tyler has shared his chowder recipe with us, so think of him tomorrow as he competes and wish him luck.

I too have a couple of favourite chowder recipes, but I’ve used them already in this column, so I went further afield for contributions from others. I hope you enjoy them.

My favourite chowders can be found in my new book, Jude’s Kitchen, which is now available in local bookstores, VQA wine shops and winery gift shops.

Or, you can pick one up and get me to personalize it at Summerland’s newest hotel, the Summerland Waterfront Resort, where Local Lounge is, for the Light up the Vines event this Sat., Nov. 26, 12:30 to 2 p.m. where  I’ll be demonstrating an appetizer from the book. It would make a great gift.



Gail’s Crabby Corn Chowder



This version of a classic recipe gets good reviews. This recipe can be doubled to serve a crowd. Exact quantities of ingredients are not critical.



3 slices of lean bacon

2 tsp. (10 ml) olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 lb. (454 g) potatoes

3 c. (750 ml) chicken stock

1/4 tsp. (1 ml) salt

1/4 tsp. (1 ml) paprika

15 oz. (444 ml) corn, drained

14 oz. (414 ml) creamed corn

1 c.(250 ml)  fat-free evaporated milk

3 drops hot pepper sauce

1/2 lb. (240 g) (2 tins) crab meat, drained

2 tbsp. (30 ml) green onions



Heat a small non-stick pan over medium heat and cook coarsely-chopped bacon until crisp. Transfer to paper towel to drain. Cool and then crumble.

Heat oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about six minutes.

Peel, if necessary, and dice potatoes  or use little new potatoes.

Add potatoes, chicken broth, salt, paprika and bacon bits to the onion mix and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.

Add the corn, creamed corn, evaporated milk, hot pepper sauce and crab meat and return to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for about two minutes.

Remove from heat and add green onions.

Serves 4.



Tyler’s Root Vegetable Chowder



Tyler Groenestyn’s chowder is rich and mellow, full of the earthiness of root vegetables, fresh thyme and sweet seafood. You could make this as a vegetarian chowder, without the seafood, if you wish, but it wouldn’t be the same! We paired this with the Ganton and Larsen Prospect Winery Birch Canoe Pinot Blanc—a match made in heaven, with its crisp citrus flavours, subtle fruit and refreshing finish.



1 c. (250 ml) diced Yukon gold potato

1 c. (250 ml) diced onion

3/4 c. (175 ml) diced carrot

3/4 c. (175 ml) diced parsnip

3/4 c. (175 ml) diced celery root

1/2 lb. (200 g) thick cut diced bacon

2 tbsp. (30 ml) minced garlic

1 bay leaf

1/2 c. (125 ml) butter

1/2 c. (125 ml) flour

12 c. (3 l) fish or shellfish stock

2 c. (1/2 l) whipping cream

3 tbsp. (45 ml) fresh lemon thyme

1 lb. (400 g) fresh seafood



Cut root vegetables into dice, about a half-inch.

Cook potato three-quarters of the way through and set aside.

Over medium heat in a heavy stock pot, render the bacon down.

Add onion, carrot, parsnip, celery root, garlic and bay leaf with butter and sweat them off until softened.

Add flour and stir for a minute or two until it’s cooked.

Slowly add hot stock and bring it to simmering, while stirring.

Simmer it for about 15 minutes until the soup has thickened.

Remove the bay leaf and add the heavy cream, thyme or lemon thyme and partly-cooked potato.

Once heated through, add your choice of Oceanwise seafood, scallops, shrimp, cod, clams, or whatever, and poach them in the chowder for a few minutes.


Serves 8.



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