A recent purchase of beautiful cod loins at The Net Result inspired me to make a version of a recipe I created for one of my books called Chilmark Harvest Chowder. That one used end-of-season-veg, but this one is a little more season-less, though it does require corn and I thoroughly cheated on this and used corn from the grocery store off-season.  (Oh, well.) 

There are a couple of tricks to keeping this chowder feeling fresh. Plenty of fresh thyme is one of them, but the other is to not overcook the potatoes or the fish. The cream should go in at the very end; you don’t need to add the whole cup if you don’t want to. Be sure to season with plenty of freshly ground pepper at the end. You’ll also have to taste for salt; the last time I made this I did not have either clam juice or any kind of fish stock on hand so I used water in the base and I threw a little fish sauce in to season it. But I still added a bit more salt at the end.

One more thing: to cut corn kernels safely off the cob, snap the cob in half first. Stand one cob half up (flattest side down) on the cutting board to stabilize it, and cut straight down with a sharp knife.

Serves 4

  • 3 to 4 ounces bacon or pancetta
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 medium leeks, thinly sliced (white and light green part only, about 1 ½ to 2 cups),   rinsed
  • 1 cup thinly sliced celery (about 2 big stalks)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon roughly chopped thyme leaves
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 pound red potatoes (unpeeled), cut into medium (1/2-inch) dice
  • 2 cups fish stock or broth, clam juice, or water seasoned with a teaspoon of fish sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 medium ears of fresh corn, shucked, kernels cut off and reserved, cobs reserved
  • 6 to 8 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into ¼ to 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 pound cod loin or cod filets, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional)
  • freshly ground pepper


1. In a medium Dutch oven or other wide pot of about 4 to 5 quarts, cook the bacon or pancetta over medium-low heat until crisp, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and crumble when cool. Drain off most of the fat.

2. Turn the heat to medium. Add the butter, the leeks, and the celery to the pot, season with ½ teaspoon salt, stir and scrape up any browned bits, and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks and celery are softened, about 5 to 6 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until the vegetables are shrunken and lightly browned, another 4 to 6 minutes.

3. Add the minced garlic and half of the fresh thyme and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine and simmer, stirring, until the liquid is reduced by half, a few minutes.

3. Add the potatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, and the fours cups of liquid (fish stock or clam juice and water). Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover loosely (leaving the lid just slightly ajar) and cook for 10 minutes.

4. Use a paring knife to scrape all sides of each corn cob half, scraping the corn pulp and juices into the pot. Discard the cobs.  Add the corn kernels and the green beans to the pot, return to a simmer, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes more, or until the potatoes and green beans are just cooked.

5. Add the fish, partially cover again, and cook at a very gentle simmer (barely bubbling) until the fish is just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Uncover, add the cream, stir to heat through, and remove the pot from the heat.

6. Stir in the remaining fresh thyme, the lemon zest (if using), and several generous grinds of black pepper. Stir and let the soup rest for a few minutes. Taste for salt and pepper and add more if needed. Serve right away garnished with the crumbled bacon or pancetta.