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.
Hey potatoes and bacon ... make room in the hot tub for cod, shrimp, clams and crab! You don't have to live on the coast to make this amazing soup.
- 1 pound cod
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 2 cups skim or 2% milk
- 2 cups half-n-half
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 slices bacon cooked and crumbled (reserve drippings)
- 1 cup thinly sliced celery
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
- 2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1 10-ounce can chopped clams drained and rinsed
- 1 6-ounce can fancy lump crab meat drained, see note below
- 1/2 pound raw shrimp peeled and deveined (see note below)
Place cod in a medium saucepan and add salt and just enough water to cover fish.
Slowly bring water to a boil and simmer until fish flakes easily with a fork.
Carefully remove fish from broth and set aside. Reserve broth also (see note below).
Combine milk, half-n-half, nutmeg and one bay leaf 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.
Sprinkle flour over celery and onions and stir, 2-3 minutes.
Add remaining bay leaf, thyme, parsley, crushed red pepper, broth, clam juice and potatoes to celery and onions and simmer until potatoes are tender (10-15 minutes).
Add warm milk mixture slowly to soup base and stir to combine.
Add black pepper (can add more pepper if desired), cod pieces, clams, crab and shrimp.
Shrimp will cook quickly and will turn pink when ready.
Taste soup and add salt and pepper if needed.
Soup can be served at this time but will taste even better if it is made one day in advance and reheated very slowly. Reheating too quickly will overcook the seafood and cause it to be tough.
Crab: Replacing the canned crab meat with fresh crab legs really takes this recipe to the next level. For this substitution, simmer 1/2-3/4 pound of crab legs with the cod at the beginning. Remove at the same time as the cod, allow to cool a bit and then remove the crab meat from the shells. Return the shells to the water/broth, along with any shells removed from the shrimp, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the big shells from the broth and strain broth well for smaller fragments. The resulting broth will be much richer and add even more flavor to the chowder.