smoked haddock chowder


as the weather gets colder my thoughts are turning to warming dishes with gentle flavours. this smoked haddock chowder is a particularly good example of the sort of thing i want to eat and would be ideal for supper on a chilly day. i also think it would be really nice as a christmas eve meal.

the flavours in the chowder are perhaps all rather predictable, but what really lifts it and makes it so lovely, is the addition of freshly grated lemon zest, sprinkled over just before serving.

somehow the contrast of the rich creamy fish soup and the zingy tangy lemon really lifts the dish, emphasising the gentle wintry flavours while reminding us of the freshness of spring that will arrive in due course.

skye gyngell’s smoked haddock chowder (serves 6)

1kg undyed smoked haddock fillet

1 litre milk

6 black peppercorns

25g unsalted butter

2 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, derinded and chopped

1 leek, washed, trimmed and diced, include some of the green part

3 carrots, peeled and diced

3 celery sticks, diced (i didn’t use this)

3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped

2 lemon thyme sprigs (or regular thyme)

2 bay leaves

salt & pepper

100ml double cream

grated zest of a lemon

small handful of finely chopped parsley

pour the milk into a wide pan, add the peppercorns and place over a medium heat. bring to just under a simmer then add the smoked haddock and remove from the heat. set aside until the haddock is cooled - the heat of the milk will be enough to gently poach the fish.

meanwhile, melt the butter in another pan over a gentle heat. when it is foaming, add the bacon and cook for 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned. add the leeks, carrots, celery, potatoes, thyme and bay leaves and season with a little salt and pepper. cook over a low heat until the vegetables begin to soften – about 10 minutes.

drain the haddock, reserving the poaching milk. once the fish is cool, remove the skin and flake the flesh, keeping it in large chunks and removing any bones. add to the softened vegetables the strain the milk into the pan (to remove the peppercorns). turn the heat up slightly and cook until the carrots and potatoes are tender. it is important that the milk doesn’t boil.

stir in the cream and warm through, then discard the herbs and check the seasoning. ladle the chowder into warm soup plates and scatter over lemon zest and parsley to serve.