Comfort food seems to be appropriate for cold weather and one wouldn’t expect Puerto
Rico to be cold but when the thermometer drops from 84° F. to 74° F. it feels like soup weather. Albeit one’s blood is thinner in hot climes it’s all relative to the climate zone and season. Its actually the dry season now in the Caribbean but we’ve had an unusual amount of rain for the last 2 weeks.
One can never have too many soup or chowder recipes and even though they all start with a basic mirepoix the star of the soup is the main ingredient which distinguishes one soup or chowder from the next.
So, okay I was cleaning out the freezer and frig and dumped it all into a pot of happy mirepoix in white wine. A fillet of tilapia, a piece of salmon, a small seabass fillet, one russet potato, the dregs of some fresh herbs and tomato paste literally made this a delicious comfort dish. If I’d had some shell fish on hand, it would have been a bonus.
This dish would be good with pasta or rice instead of potatoes. You could add white beans like cannelini or northern (navy) beans.
A tip for those who buy tomato paste in 6-oz cans and only use a tablespoon or 2; spoon the remaining tomato paste into a small zip-lock bag, store it in the door of your frig, it’ll keep for a couple weeks at least. Snip one end of the bag to extrude the paste as needed.
A spur-of-the-moment dish? Yes! A hearty dish? Yes! Easy to make? Amen! And all from bits and pieces you probably have on hand. Think about this the next time you clean out the freezer.
- 2 strips of bacon, diced
- 1/2 large onion, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 large potato, diced
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 cups fish stock (chicken stock or water may be used)
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste diluted in 1/4 cup stock
- 2 dashes of Tabasco or cayenne pepper to taste
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 or 4 sprigs fresh tarragon, removed from stem and chopped slightly
- 1/2 lb. fish fillets in bite size pieces ( use the seafood and shell fish you have on hand)
- 1 Tbsp butter, melted (optional)
- 1 Tbsp flour (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Saute bacon in a soup pot over medium heat to render the fat.
- Add the onions, celery, potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium high heat about 10 minutes stirring ocassionally.
- Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan while stirring.
- Add the stock, cover and cook until potatoes are done. Remove 1/4 cup of stock and blend with tomato paste. Mash some of the potatoes for a thicker and creamier consistency.
- Pour diluted tomato paste into pot and stir. Add thyme, tarragon, fish fillets and cook for 5 minutes more.
- If a thicker chowder is desired mix melted butter with flour and whisk into chowder then cook for 5 minutes before adding fish.
- Remove a tablespoon of chowder to cool for a minute and taste for salt and pepper. Add more seasoning if needed.
- Serve with lemon and parsley garnish, crusty bread, salad and wine.