Rich and creamy, this hearty chowder is packed with seafood and vegetables and is super quick to prepare. As you’ll see, the recipe is quite flexible and can be made with just fish, just seafood, or your favourite combination of the two. Note that you can even make this gluten-free, if preferred, plus you can make it ahead and gently reheat. Serve it with baguette and a green salad for a perfectly pleasing meal, ideal for two but even better for sharing with friends.
* Note: if not using shrimp or lobster, replace with additional haddock fillets
Heat 2 tbsp butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 3 minutes until softened, stirring frequently. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add celery and carrot; cook 3 minutes more, stirring often.
Add vegetable stock, water, potatoes and seasonings. Stir well then cover pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium and cook until potatoes are just tender (test with the tip of a sharp knife), about 10 minutes or less, stirring gently a few times.
While potatoes are cooking, in a separate small pot, melt remaining 3 tbsp of butter. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes or until flour is nicely incorporated and cooked.
Gradually add milk to the butter and flour, a bit at a time, stirring or whisking vigorously, to create a smooth, thick white sauce. Add cream cheese and cook for 3 about three minutes, stirring or whisking often, until cheese has melted and fully blended in. Remove from heat and blend in vermouth or white wine, if using.
Meanwhile, cut fresh or partially defrosted fish fillets into one inch (2.5 cm) pieces. When potato is just barely tender, stir in haddock, shrimp, and lobster meat. Cover, and stir very gently a few times while cooking over medium heat for 5 – 6 minutes, until fish is opaque.
Add white sauce to larger pot and and stir very gently to blend. If the chowder is thicker than you prefer, add a little more milk. Heat for just a few minutes until it is steaming but not boiling. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Remove bay leaves. Serve in warmed bowls with a garnish of fresh parsley.
Makes four bowls of deliciousness.
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