Make this hearty chowder when you end up with a giant head of cauliflower that doesn’t fit in your fridge and you don’t know what to do with, like I did. Cauliflower replaces the potatoes that typically show up in chowders, and it does a surprisingly good job of substituting them. Garlic, thyme and just one strip of bacon give the cod chowder the savory, aromatic backbone it needs. I skipped making the bechamel and left the chowder more on the soupy side, but you can add that at the end if you prefer a thicker chowder.
This may be a weekend meal–it does take a fair amount of chopping, and the somewhat active cooking time is on the long side. The good news is that the chowder will be even better after it sits in the fridge overnight. I made a big pot and plan to eat the rest later in the week.
Serve it with some crusty bread. Go ahead and add an ale, too. (I did!)
Cauliflower Cod Chowder with Garlic and Thyme
DASH benefits: This filling chowder has loads of vegetables and lean protein without the fat and heaviness from the butter and heavy cream found in a lot of chowders.
DASH servings (if dividing into 8 servings):
2.5-3 vegetables & fruits
2 meats & fish
0.75 fat & oil
Heat the olive oil in a big pot and add the bacon, onion, shallot and garlic. Turn the heat to medium.
Saute, stirring often to prevent the alliums from burning, for 6-7 minutes, or until they are fragrant and softened.
Strip the thyme leaves off the stem and add to the pot. Saute for another minute until the thyme starts releasing the aroma.
Add the celery, carrots and red pepper to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for 5 minutes, or until they start to soften.
Turn the heat to high and add the water to the pot. Bring to a boil and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until all the vegetables are cooked through.
Add the milk and bring the pot to just before a boil. (Try not to let it boil too vigorously, or you’ll get milk scum floating on top--which is not a problem for me, but some people find it unpalatable.) Taste, and season with salt and pepper if needed.
Keeping the pot at just below a boil, add the cod. Submerge the pieces gently and add the cauliflower pieces. Let the pot simmer until the cod chunks are cooked through and opaque, for 5 minutes or so.
Stir in the sour cream and add salt and/or pepper if needed. Serve with crusty bread.
The chowder should keep in the fridge for 5-6 days. (Just make sure to reheat it thoroughly every time.) It can also be frozen and reheated later. I turned this into a quick and tasty Jamaican curry soup a few days later and had it over basmati rice. Yum!