Spring's First Chowder With Fresh Herbs and Peas
Note: If making the chowder a day ahead, add the peas and fresh herbs when reheating, since they will lose color upon standing. From "Chowders From Coast to Coast," by Brook Dojny.
• 4 oz. bacon, cut into 1/2-in. pieces (about 1 c.)
• 2 tbsp. butter, plus more if needed
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 1 c. bottled clam juice or seafood broth
• 2 c. water
• 1 lb. red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled and diced (about 3 c.)
• 3 slender young carrots, thinly sliced
• 3/4 tsp. salt, plus more if needed
• 1 c. heavy cream
• 1 lb. haddock, or other mild flaky fish fillets, cut into 4-in. chunks
• 1 c. fresh or frozen peas
• 1/2 c. snipped chives or thinly sliced green onions
• 2 tbsp. coarsely chopped dill
• 2 tbsp. coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
• 2 tsp. coarsely chopped tarragon
• Freshly ground black pepper
Cook the bacon in a large heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat until crisp and the fat is rendered, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the cooked bits with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels, and reserve. You should have 2 tablespoons of fat in the pot. If there is too much, pour some off, or if there is too little, make up the difference with additional butter.
Add the butter to the pot and cook the onion over medium heat until it begins to soften about 5 minutes. Add the clam juice, 2 cups water, potatoes, carrots and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until the potatoes and carrots are almost tender, about 12 minutes.
Add the cream and fish, bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook until the fish is opaque, about 5 minutes. The fish will break apart as it cooks.
Add the peas, chives, dill, parsley and tarragon, and cook for 5 minutes if using fresh peas or about 2 minutes for frozen peas. Stir in the reserved bacon bits and season with pepper and additional salt if needed. Let the chowder sit at cool room temperature for at least an hour or refrigerate overnight.
Reheat over low heat, ladle into bowls, and serve.