My grandmother was a Swedish culinary with brown meatball gravy and lingonberry jam in her veins. My grandfather was born in the farm country of Michigan’s thumb to French Canadian parents and held most Swedish recipes in contempt. Pickled herring and fish chowder were exceptions. As a child I quietly abided many lunches of chowder and rye bread while keeping an eye on a cooling rhubarb pie, of which I was promised a healthy wedge for my patience. It would take years and my grandmother’s passing before I grew to appreciate fish chowder/stew/soup in its countless variations. Unlike red meat, I don’t normally have a freezer full of fish, so I don’t make it often. This past weekend a day spent watching tip ups yielded more than enough pike for an evening fish fry, and there’s no better use for leftover anything than soup.
After my grandmother’s conversion to the gospel of Julia Child, and multiple adaptations scrawled in the margins of the old recipe card by other family members, this isn’t inherently Nordic but it is delicious.
Standard soup base ingredients. One whole head of garlic or gtfo.
Melt some butter and brown that shit.
Add about a cup of sour cream, two cups milk, and two cups stock. Fish it best, chicken is fine. Salt, thyme, bay leaf, black pepper.
Simmer lightly but don’t boil. If you want to get fancy here you can pour the broth in a blender and smooth it out.
Add a pound or so of cubed potatoes and a can of sweet corn. I added a couple handfuls of kale to contribute some semblance of nutritional value, broccoli, spinach, or collard greens all work fine, whatever you've in the fridge. I like it spicy so I add a lot of red pepper flakes and a few smacks of tabasco.
Once the potatoes are fork tender, add cubed fish. This pike was fried originally, which is fine. The flour helps thicken up the broth. Salmon, any type of cod, or other firm fish works.
Simmer slowly for 15-20 minutes or until fish is cooked if you're starting with raw stuff, salt/pepper the broth to taste. Best served the next day with buttered rye toast.