Here is a real winter warmer recipe for a Catch of the Sea chowder. Unlike most chowders, it does not contain potatoes. Though you can add them, of course, it is delicious without them and, for those on low carbohydrate diets, like some diabetics and dieters, it is friendly to that way of eating.
The seafood used here can be purchased in many stores, it is a mixture of frozen things, scallops, shrimps, tiny squids, muscles and such. The assortments usually come in 16 ounce bags. If you cannot find this, most any seafood can be substituted, the greater the variety, the more wonderful the chowder.
The ingredients are
1 16 ounce bag frozen mixed seafood, thawed,
1/2 pound tilipia or cod,
2 cups sliced mixed mushrooms
1 cup thinly sliced celery,
2 cups diced onions, half red, half white or yellow,
2 cloves of garlic, pressed,
1 red bell pepper, diced,
1 cup baby carrots, cut in fourths,
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper,
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotlie peppers,
2 teaspoons ground ginger,
A splash of sherry wine,
1 1/2 quarts seafood and bacon stock
and finally, half a cup of heavy cream.
We need to talk a little of the seafood stock. I use Minor's bases from soupbase.com, the seafood base, the lobster base and just a touch of the bacon base. Boil the water, add the bases to taste, then proceed with the remaining directions.
Once the stock is simmering, add the vegetables and all the seasonings except the ginger. Remember, ginger and shrimp do not fare well when cooked together, the chemistry of ginger can make the shrimp disgustingly soft.
Allow this to simmer until the vegetables are soft.
While this is happening, saute the fish in a bit of olive oil, seasoning with almost anything that strikes your fancy, Old Bay would be just fine along with garlic or Cajun spices. Don't overcook the fish, just until it flakes a little.
When the veggies are very soft, put about two thirds of the soup in a blender and blend for 30 seconds. Be sure a fair share of the chunkies are in the blender. This will produce a thickening agent that uses no additional starches, but adds a wonderful mouth feel to the soup.
Add the blended part back to the pot and bring to a low simmer once again. Add the seafood and fish and cook until the seafood is done, which will be only a few minutes as it cooks quickly.
Now, add the ginger and simmer for a minute. Remove from the heat and add the cream, stirring rapidly as you add it. Slosh in some Sherry and stir again, taste, correct any glaring seasoning errors and serve.
Being a hearty chowder, this lends itself to being served in a terrine at table center. This will give you about 2 and a half quarts of soup, more or less. How many this will serve depends on what you have along with it. A sturdy salad and a generous bowl of this chowder would make a wonderful meal. If you are not counting carbs, a thick slice of homemade sourdough bread would not go amiss, either.
Another idea is to cook some short grain rice and place some in the soup bowls before ladleing in the chowder. This will add a thickness and truly make it a one dish meal.