So yeah, this is a chowder. How the heck do you make a chowder look tasty? I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever looked at a soup and thought ‘That looks yummy!’. Usually I have to read the ingredients to see that it’s probably going to be good.
I think I took something like 20 different shots of this but my simple photography skills were definitely outmatched.
But I promise you that it’s good (despite the picture). Plus it’s veggie loaded so you can feel good about eating it and have the bonus of a piece bacon in there just to satisfy (although you could skip the bacon if you wanted).
I will admit that since we’re not big fish fans (we eat it more for nutritional reasons) and I built this recipe around the idea that I needed to hide the fish flavor to get my husband to eat it.
But for you fish lovers out there i.e. weirdos (just kidding!), you could easily replace all of the chicken stock with fish stock, or do a fun mix of chicken stock and fish stock or chicken stock and clam juice to bring out the flavor more.
I really came up with this recipe as a means to use up some of the produce I had floating around and kept it simple with pantry staples and some spices. In fact, the only thing I actually went out and bought for this was 1 tilapia fillet and 1 piece of bacon; and how awesome is it that some merchants at Findley market will sell me one piece of bacon as long as I also purchase something else from them? Seriously, it makes my day because then I don’t have to worry about having this huge package of pork bacon that we need to eat, which, while delicious, is not always the healthiest option.
- 1 tilapia fillet (about 1/2 lb)
- 1 piece of bacon
- 1/2 tsp grape seed oil
- 1/2 cup onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 celery stalk, minced
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 2 ears of corn, kernels cut off, cobs broken in half and top half of cobs saved
- 1/2 lb potatoes, small dice
- 1/2 lb tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and chopped
- 1 1/2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp cajun seasoning
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp chipotle chili powder or smoked paprika (chipotle chili powder will give the recipe a bit more heat)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp (Old Bay or Blackening Seasoning for fish - use what you like)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 cup nonfat evaporated milk
- 1/2 - 1 Tbsp hot sauce (personally I went Chipotle Tobasco for a fun twist, but you could easily use your favorite or omit entirely)
- Optional Garnishes: Chives or Green Onions, 1 Tbsp of cheese per serving, additional hot sauce.
- Peel, de-seed and chop your tomatoes - making sure to save any tomato juice (this is the part of fresh tomatoes that I'm not a huge fan of - email me or comment if you don't know how to do this).
- Cook bacon in soup pot until fat has rendered and it's crispy. Remove from pan and crumble when cool enough to handle.
- Add in 1/2 tsp grape seed oil to leftover bacon fat (if you'r not doing the bacon step I'd go 1/2 tsp oil and 1 tsp butter) and heat over medium high heat. Saute onion and garlic for 2 - 4 minutes, until onion has softened.
- Add in celery and bell peppers, continue to saute 2 - 4 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender. Sprinkle cajun seasoning, thyme, chipotle chili powder (or smoked paprika) and flour over vegetables, stir until vegetables are well coated. Add in tomatoes with their juice and deglaze any pieces stuck to the bottom of the pot. Cook for another 2 - 4 mintues or until the tomatoes have broken down a bit.
- Add in potatoes, the top half of the two corn cobs, chicken stock, bay leaf and hot sauce. Bring to a boil, stir, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Let simmer for 20 minutes.
- At this point, use an immersion blender or just remove half of the soup to a blender or food processor and process until creamy. Honestly, I shouldn't have blended as much of mine as I did; I was just having too much fun with my new immersion blender.
- Place blended soup back into pot, add milk and continue to simmer 10 - 15 minutes until all of the flavor has combined and the soup has thickened up. This is also the point where if you're cooking your fish with the soup, I would chunk up the fish, season it with Old Bay or Blackening seasoning and throw it in the pot to cook through for the last 10 - 15 minutes of simmer time.
- If you're trying to hide the flavor of the fish, season your fish, then use a small pan to cook your fish until flaky. After the fish is done cooking, chunk it up and stir it into the soup right before serving.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, discard bay leaf, stir in crumbled bacon and serve immediately.
I almost made biscuits to go with this but I’m actually really glad that I didn’t because this meal was filling. If you really needed a side a piece of crusty bread of biscuits would go perfectly with this but this was a huge portion.
I garnished with a bit of dried chives and Jarlsberg Light because that was what I had on hand, but I could see a bit of shredded pepperjack and some chopped green onions being excellent.
And when my fish hating husband commented that it was really good and he couldn’t even tell there was fish in there? Priceless.