To find this standard, I turned to the good old Joy of Cooking (75th anniversary ed. Scribner 2006), as one does from time to time. Although the recipe calls for fish stock, my fishmonger was out and I didn't have the time to make it, so I used a bottle of clam juice and made up the rest of the quantity with chicken stock — both always easy to find at the store. This chowder is particularly fine when liberally strewn with chervil at the end, if you can get your hands on that elusive, spring-tasting herb.
Makes 6 servings
4 ounces salt pork or 4 slices bacon, diced
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 large onions, chopped
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
3 large boiling potatoes or 8 to 10 fingerling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices or 1/2-inch dice
3 cups fish stock (or a mixture of clam juice and chicken stock)
2 cups heavy cream
3 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless fish fillets
2 tablespoons chopped parsley and/or chervil
Cook the salt pork or bacon in a heavy soup pot, over low heat, stirring, until beginning to crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the butter, onions, bay leaves and thyme and cook, stirring, until the onions are tender but not browned, another 10 minutes or so.
Add the potatoes and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and stir in the fish fillets and cream. Simmer (do not boil) until the fish is cooked through and beginning to flake, 8 to 10 minutes. The fish will come apart in large chunks. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.