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Family Recipe Friday – Fish Chowder

My love of fish chowder is influenced by my French-Canadian ancestors as well as my husband’s Italian heritage.

In Canada, fish chowder originates from New England. The recipe was brought by the Empire Loyalists who settled in Quebec after the American War of Independence.

My Quebec ancestors who lived along the St. Lawrence River would have served fish chowder to their families. In those regions, many people earned their living as fishermen and fish chowder would have most certainly been a common occurrence. These fish chowders were usually a broth and milk base.

In my childhood, fish and seafood were mostly served on abstinence days imposed by the Catholic church. Although I have to admit I’m not as observant about Catholic abstinence of meat, I still occasionally look forward to a nice fish dinner on Friday.

Our choice of fish chowder recipes is also influenced by my husband’s Mediterranean background. Cioppino or fish stew as it is probably better known is definitely a favourite in our household. This tomato- based version wins out over a milk based fish chowder.

Do you have a favourite fish chowder?

Here’s my family recipe for Mediterranean Fish Soup

Olive Oil 4 tbs.
Onion , finely chopped   1
Garlic cloves, crushed    2
Celery stalks and leaves, sliced  2
Tomatoes, canned 28 oz
White wine 1/2 cup
Water or Chicken broth  2 1/2 cups
Fish fillets, haddock or cod 1 lb.
Shrimp 1/4 lb
Mussels washed and rinsed 1 1/2 lb

Heat oil and saute the onion and garlic for a few minutes until transparent. Add celery, chopped tomatoes, wine, water, and seasoning. Cook 15 minutes. Cut fish into bite size pieces and add to soup. Poach gently for 10 minutes do not allow to boil. Take a little of the soup broth and place with the mussels in a frying pan. Shake well until mussels open. Add to the soup with the shrimp and cook for 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve with crusty bread and your favourite Chianti.

Serves about 4. Enjoy!