A few years ago, I heard that eating seafood or fish on New Year’s Day was good luck. I cannot say that any great fortune has come to us since then but I cannot begin to count my blessings either.
My family looks forward to this chowder every year. Now, Iowa is obviously not the hotspot for oceanic delicacies (though we have much better access to it these days than ever before) so I am not proposing that my recipe would compete with coastal regions. However, in the middle of the winter, this warms us from the inside out.
1 pound cod
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups skim (or 2%) milk
2 cups half-n-half
pinch of nutmeg
6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled (reserve drippings)
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 cup diced onion
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 bottle clam juice
2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 10-oz can chopped clams, drained
1 6-oz can fancy lump crab meat, drained
1/2 pound raw shrimp
Place cod in a medium saucepan and add just enough water to cover fish and add salt.
Slowly bring water to a boil and simmer until fish flakes easily with a fork.
Carefully remove fish from “broth” and set aside.
Combine milk, half-n-half, and nutmeg in a saucepan on low heat, stirring often, until warm.
Sauté celery and onion in reserved bacon drippings in a dutch oven or stock pot until tender (but not mushy).
Sprinkle flour over celery and onions and stir, 2-3 minutes.
Add bay leaf, parsley, crushed red pepper, broth, clam juice and potatoes to celery and onions and simmer until potatoes are tender (10-15 minutes).
Add black pepper (can add more pepper if desired), cod pieces, clams, crab and shrimp.
Add warm milk and half-n-half to soup base and stir to combine.
Shrimp will cook quickly and should be pink when ready.
Taste soup and add salt and pepper if needed.
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