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Spring is upon us and our backyard gardens are showing new growth, heralding the summer harvest ahead. This is the time to make the most of the last of the winter vegetables which are perfect for the creation of a creamy soup that pays homage to the outgoing season, but with hints of the freshness of summer.
Seafood chowder is a real favourite with our families and tastes even better with freshly caught, thick, fatty fillets of hāpuka. If you are not a huge seafood fan, an alternative recipe is just as good as a fish chowder: remove the prawns and mussels and add a 200g fillet of diced fresh or wood-roasted salmon at the same time as the white fish.
Chowder is best served with warm crusty bread to mop it all up, and any leftover freezes well for a quick meal. We promise you, it will become a weekly favourite in whatever form it takes.
100g butter 1 Tbsp olive oil 1 leek, white part only, finely sliced 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and sliced 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely diced 1 cup white wine 20 mussels, beards removed and washed thoroughly 2 Tbsp flour 2 carrots, peeled and diced 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced 1 litre chicken stock (or fish stock) 600g firm white fish, diced 200g prawn meat 1 Tbsp preserved lemon, thinly sliced Juice of 1 lemon ½ cup cream 3 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped 4 Tbsp fresh dill, roughlychopped 100g cold smoked salmon (optional) 100g wood smoked salmon (optional)
In a large pot, heat butter and oil on a medium heat.
Sauté leek, fennel, and garlic for 5 minutes until soft.
Increase heat to medium-high and add mussels and white wine. Cover with lid, steaming mussels for 3 minutes, shaking once, until the mussels are just opened.
Remove mussels from pot with tongs and set aside.
Add flour to leek, fennel, and wine mixture and stir in.
Add carrots, potatoes, and stock and simmer covered for 20 minutes.
In the meantime, take half of the mussels out of shells and roughly chop. Reserve some mussels in shells for serving.
After 20 mins add prawns and diced fish to chowder; continue to simmer for 4–5 minutes, until seafood is just cooked.
Add chopped mussel meat, preserved lemon, lemon juice, cream, and half of parsley and dill. Stir and season.
Divide into bowls, adding 1 or 2 mussels in shells to each bowl and topping with cold smoked salmon (optional) and fresh herbs.