Although I refuse to accept that Summer is almost over it has certainly cooled down in the last week and the forecast unfortunately predicts grey, rainy days for the next few days. Not my idea of Summer, however this Fish and Corn Chowder is. It is so full of bright, fresh seasonal flavours and although hearty enough to enjoy on a cooler evening for dinner, it is a lovely light chowder with only a little cream added at the end. Being a chilli lover I love the addition of the fresh, spiky hot chilli at the end to cut through the creaminess but if you aren't a fan you can easily miss it out. Try it though – I guarantee you will love it! Served with some hot, garlicky crostini this is the most perfect late Summer meal.
A small knob of butter
4 rashers of streaky bacon, chopped
1 large onion (or 2 small), finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
450g/ 1lb red potatoes, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 tbsp flour
500ml chicken stock
4 sprigs of thyme (I use lemon thyme)
2 bay leaves (fresh if possible, otherwise dried is fine)
340g/ 12oz firm white fish of your choice, skinned & boned* (use something that is sustainably sourced)
4 corn-on-the-cob, shucked
Salt & pepper
4 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped (optional)
Heat the butter in a large pan then once melted add the chopped bacon and cook until golden brown and crispy. Add the onion and celery and cook for roughly 8 minutes until softened but not coloured. Add the garlic and cook carefully for another minute before adding the potatoes and flour. Stir well so the flour has coated everything then cook for a couple of minutes, stirring, before adding the stock. Scrape the bottom of the pan to make sure you get all of the delicious sticky goodness into the stock then add the milk, thyme and bay leaves and stir well and cook for 10 minutes.
While the soup is cooking cut the fish into roughly 1-1 ½ inch pieces, making sure there are no bones. Add to the chowder and cook for 4-5 minutes before adding the shucked corn and a little salt and pepper. Cook for another 4-5 minutes until the fish is cooked through and flaky and the corn tender. When everything is ready add the cream and half of the parsley. Taste to check the seasoning and adjust if necessary before ladling into bowls and topping with the remaining parsley and the fresh chilli. Serve at once with some hot crostini, French bread or simply crackers.
*For the version photographed I use snapper as that's what I had but you could use any firm white fish that is sustainably sourced, or if available a smoked white fish. Depending on the type of fish you choose it might need a few minutes more or less cooking time than instructed but generally as soon as it is flaking you know that it's perfect! As for the amount of fish don't worry about being too specific - if you have a little more it will still be perfect.