I find it hard to understand why people spend so much money buying packet or tinned soups or even fresh soups from the chilled section in the supermarket when it is so easy to make your own at home. In most cases, they can be made in little time using ingredients that are relatively inexpensive.
My gang love the Cream of Vegetable Soup that I make using potatoes, carrots, onions, and leeks, but they also like my version of Minestrone Soup into which I add some pasta. Soups like the latter are a meal in their own right and require nothing more than some nice crusty bread as an accompaniment.
Chowders are creamy, thickened soups usually containing chunks of potato and can include other vegetables. Fish or shellfish are often used in chowders and here I have included smoked haddock which gives the soup a lovely smokiness which marries well with the creaminess of the soup itself. Along with the sweetcorn, the chunks of potato and the samphire this is a substantial dish which is incredibly tasty.
This chowder is inspired by the wonderful chowder that I recently had in The Vintage Kitchen which I was so impressed with. I am not claiming that this version is as magnificent as the one that I ate there but it is still incredibly delicious and relatively simple to make. The Vintage Kitchen’s chowder included samphire which I thought was an inspired addition so I have used it here too. Samphire can be a little hard to source, so if you can’t get your hands on some just leave it out – the chowder will still taste amazing!
Ingredients:To poach the fish:
300g smoked haddock (preferably undyed)
350ml vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1 large white onion, finely chopped
200g potato, peeled and chopped into 2cm chunks
A large sprig of thyme
1tsp of Dijon mustard
250ml double cream
125g frozen sweetcorn
125g samphire, blanched and refreshed in cold water
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chives, finely chopped
Method:To poach the fish:
1. Place the fish in a medium-sized but deepish frying pan, add the bay leaf and cover with the vegetable stock. Bring up to simmering point over a medium heat and allow to bubble away for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
2. Carefully remove the fish with a slotted spoon but reserve the poaching liquid. Flake the fish into large chunks, removing and discarding any bones that you come across. Set aside.
3. Heat the butter in a large saucepan over a moderate heat and add the onions. Fry for 2 minute and then add the potatoes and thyme. Reduce the heat and place the lid on the saucepan. Allow the vegetables to sweat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until they have begun to soften.
4. Add the reserved poaching liquid and the Dijon mustard and allow to simmer uncovered, over a gentle heat for 10 minutes until the potatoes have softened but are not disintegrating.
5. Add the cream and stir through. Allow to simmer for a further 3 minutes and then add in the fish and frozen sweetcorn. Remove and discard the bay leaf and sprigs of thyme. Simmer for 3 minutes and then add the blanched samphire. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
6. Serve sprinkled with chopped chives.