Around the world in 80 dishes No. 50: Smoked fish chowder

Ingredients to serve 4 to 6

2 medium onions
250g streaky bacon or pancetta, smoked or unsmoked
1 punnet (about 250g) button mushrooms
4 large potatoes
1 large (300g) fillet of smoked haddock, skinned – preferably, traditionally smoked, undyed fish
Half a bunch of curly parsley
Large knob of butter
About 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 litre fish stock (or vegetable stock, or even water if you have no stock)
250ml double cream
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

This really is a meal in a bowl, but its very quick to put together and with no seasonal ingredients you can make it with a clear conscience at any time of the year. We have a course at the cookery school called "Desperate Housewives & Hapless Husbands", designed for people who feel clueless in the kitchen, and this is one of the recipes we include. It is so popular that people email us and write to us to say that they have made it time and time again at home afterwards. It really is quite difficult to ruin and is such a wonderful, classic combination of flavours that even if you brown the bacon too much, it will still taste great.

First, prepare your ingredients. Finely chop the onions. Using a pair of scissors, snip the bacon into strips about the width of your little finger. Clean and then halve or quarter the mushrooms. Peel the potatoes, and then cut them into rough 1cm dice. Cut the fish into big chunks, roughly 2-3cm in size. Roughly chop the parsley.

Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan. Add the onions and bacon and cook gently over a medium heat for about 4-5 minutes. The bacon will start to brown a little, but the onions should just be translucent. Add the potatoes and stir well, then add the mushrooms. Stir well to coat all the ingredients in the oil and butter, and then add enough stock barely to cover. Stir and bring to a gentle simmer for 8 minutes.

Add the cubed fish and cook very gently for a further 5 minutes, just long enough to poach the fish without overcooking it. Dont let the soup boil, otherwise the fish will disintegrate and the soup will look mushy and unappetising. Add the cream and stir gently to heat through. Taste the soup at this point. The bacon and fish are quite salty anyway, so you may not need to add any more salt. Season with pepper, if you like, then put in the parsley and serve.

Taken from Cook by Richard Bertinet (Kyle Cathie, £19.99). The Bertinet Kitchen Cookery School www.bertinet.com

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