A Creamy Bowl of Fish Chowder for Santiago ~ Inspired by Hemingway’s THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA
The Old Man and the Sea is one of the Ernest Hemingway classics that I recently set out to read. Not since high school had I delved into his epic works, so had forgotten the details of his novella featuring the old fisherman.
It’s simply agonizing to read, even if you are flipping through its pages from a deck chair with sand sifting between your toes, as I was. Thirst kicks in, as well as hunger. And fingers with imaginary callouses and rope burns begin to ache, along with phantom muscle strains. Perspiration breaks out along the brow. If you’ve read the story, you know how it ends, but still you find yourself rooting for the little man fighting the monstrous beast.
If only he’d had the means, and a successful day’s catch, Santiago could have thrown these few ingredients together for a sustaining dinner after his battle with the great marlin. Though it requires constant attention to prevent scorching, this cream soup takes little time to make with a bit of advance preparation. I broil the fish and parboil the potatoes ahead of time to rapidly execute the final assembly so that with little effort it is ready to be ladled into bowls and served with thick slices of bread.
Creamy Fish Chowder
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T butter
1 T minced fresh garlic
1 1/2 c. sliced spring onions
1/2 c. green bell pepper, small dice
1/2 c. celery, small dice
4 T all-purpose flour
1/2 c. heavy cream
6 c. whole milk
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
6 (3-4 oz.) broiled fish fillets
2 large russet potatoes, parboiled just till tender, large dice
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c. minced fresh parsley
Thyme sprigs for garnish
Heat the butter and the oil over medium/high heat.
Sauté the garlic in the fat till translucent. Add the onions and celery to sweat.
Stir in the bell pepper and continue to sauté until translucent.
Stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook while stirring for one minute.
Whisk in the cream, then the milk, stirring constantly to smooth out the flour and prevent the formation of lumps.
Add 1/2 tsp. salt and the thyme leaves.
Bring to a simmer while stirring constantly until the liquid thickens and reduces.
Stir in the fish, breaking the fillets apart while stirring.
Stir in the potatoes and continue simmering and stirring until they are tender.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Stir in the parsley.
Serve and garnish with thyme sprigs.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings