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Fish chowder

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July 30, 2008

Serves 6

Pollock is a local white fish, mild in flavor and usually inexpensive. In this chowder, a pound of fish and four red potatoes make supper for six. Instead of complicating the recipe with homemade fish stock, we use bottled clam juice diluted with water. A little salt pork enhances the broth, whole milk enriches it, and cornstarch thickens it. So it's not a chowder that's so thick your spoon will stand upright. But it's everything a summer dinner should be: quick, light, easy, and full of sea flavor.

1 tablespoon canola oil
1/3 pound salt pork, skin removed, pork coarsely chopped
2 large onions, chopped
6 stalks celery, chopped
1 tablespoon dried thyme
4 large red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 cups (24 ounces) bottled clam juice
8 cups water
1 pound pollock, or other firm-fleshed white fish, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups whole milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
5 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 5 tablespoons water
1. In a soup pot, heat the oil. Add salt pork and cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until crispy.

2. Add the onion and cook 3 minutes more. Add the celery and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until the vegetables soften.

3. Stir in the potatoes, clam juice, and water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are barely tender.

4. Add the fish, milk, a pinch of salt, and pepper. Return to a simmer, but do not let the soup boil. Cook for 3 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.

5. Stir the cornstarch mixture again so it is pourable. Slowly add it to the pot, stirring gently. Cook for 1 minute or until the broth thickens slightly. Taste the broth for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Karoline Boehm Goodnick

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