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I lived in Maine for 15 years, and if there's one thing every person in Maine has, it's their own secret recipe for fish chowder. Since these recipes are secret, they're never written down. And if you do manage to wheedle a recipe out of anyone, it's liable to be along the lines of "Take some fish, some potatoes, some onion...then cook it till it's done."
I enjoyed many of the fish chowders served at the countless fund-raising chowder suppers I attended, but I always felt they were lacking something. Some were too watery; some too chunky; and some just downright tasteless. So I concocted my own recipe, and it's the best fish chowder I've ever eaten, if I may so modestly say so. Unfortunately for those who are timid in the kitchen, it's a little bit vague -- just like many Maine recipes. But go ahead and try it; keep tasting till it tastes right to you, and you will have developed your own secret chowder recipe!
1/2 stick butter or margarine
1 large (or 2 medium) onions, chopped
2 large potatoes, diced into 1/2-inch pieces (they don't need to be peeled; just scrubbed and dried)
1 to 1 1/2 pounds boned fish fillet, such as cod, halibut, hake, cusk, flounder, or other plain white fish
3 cups (approx.) half and half, milk, or evaporated milk
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon thyme
pepper to taste
Melt the butter or margarine in a large saucepan. Add the chopped onions and cook till onions are golden but not brown. Put the diced potatoes atop the onions, and add water to just cover. Then lay fish (just as you bought it; not cut up, unless it's more than 1-inch thick, in which case it should be cut into pieces) atop potatoes and add water to just cover. Bring to a boil and simmer just till potatoes are cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes; fish will be cooked at this point, too. Take a fork and stir soup, breaking up fish.
Add half and half/milk/evaporated milk, and stir to blend. Season to taste with salt, pepper and thyme. Heat just to a simmer, but don't actually let soup boil; let it sit for 10 minutes or so to let flavors blend. Serve hot, with a pat of butter or margarine on top.
This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. III, No. 3, January-February 1992 issue.