Because sometimes, you've just got to make fish chowder

by Dr. Jessie Voigts / Sep 10, 2010 /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

We're in Ireland, and loving it (needless to say). And yes, the rain is ubiquitous. So what do you do, when you're in your lovely seaside cottage, fire going in the hearth, cuppa tea in hand, needing a break from your book, and it's not just the usual light, short-lived rain, but a full-blown storm?

Storm off Westcove Harbor, Co Kerry, Ireland

Storm off Westcove Harbor, Co Kerry, Ireland 


You pull out the fresh hake gleaned from the Kenmare Wednesday Market, and scrub and dice the fresh organic carrots (same market) and fresh potatoes (Tesco, not so glamorous). You chop onion and garlic, glorying in the sounds of the rain and wind. You glop into the well-loved pan some creamy Irish butter. You root around in the cupboard, and come up with fresh sea salt (no time to make your own, alas) and organic mixed herbs. And you chop the fish, which seemed so mundane when purchased (avoiding the plaice, as it is just TOO UGLY) and now has taken on a purpose far beyond what you had in mind.

Fish Guy at the Kenmare Market

Fish Guy at the Kenmare Market 


Warm inside during the storm, Pier Cottage

Warm inside during the storm, Pier Cottage


Et voila. A perfect, steaming bowl of fresh Irish fish chowder.

Finish your dinner with some blackberries you picked this morning, seaside, tossed atop some gorgeous rhubarb yogurt.

Loving this rainy day in Co. Kerry...

Fresh Irish Fish Chowder

all quantities approximate - use what you have on hand

Cooking fish chowder 


fresh fish (we had 2 large filets of hake)
water (you could use wine)
mixed herbs
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
slice of sea-salt hand rubbed organic free range bacon

Glop some butter into the pan, and add the bacon, carrots, onion, and garlic. If you have celery, by all means, add it in (yum!). Stir that around until the veggies are soft. Add one small glass of water and the fish - the liquid should cover the fish. Add the herbs, salt, and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes or so, and then add 2 small glasses of milk (I am using the juice glasses here at lovely Pier Cottage), to make it creamy. If it doesn't thicken up enough for you, take a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid out and mix it with flour or cornstarch, and add that slurry back in. Simmer slowly over low heat (Knob 1 on this stove) until you just can't stand it anymore. Dish out huge bowls of soup, and serve with that delicious brown bread, slathered with butter. Our was baked by Jane at Westcove Farmhouse Bakery, just up the road from the pier, past Westcove House.

Fresh Fish Chowder

Fresh Fish Chowder 


If you're lucky, you'll have leftovers for lunch tomorrow. But I am guessing that your family might, just might, devour it all.


Looking out the window, Pier Cottage, Co Kerry, Ireland

Looking out the window, Pier Cottage, Co Kerry, Ireland



Check out my new Learnist board on Irish Recipes:


Best Irish Recipes for St Patrick's Day (and All Year!)


Authentic recipe for fish chowder from Ireland

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Comments (2)

  • Kerry Dexter

    5 years 2 months ago

    I'm well familiar with those rainy Irish days, when the rain turns, well, almost solid.

    a great story -- and have you tried your hand a baking your own brown bread yet? it's not hard to do, though I agree I enjoy trying all the bakery varieties too. not far from the area where I stay there is one called Cuchulainn Bakery, always think it's great to have a bakery named after a hero of ancient legend.

    while we are on the subject of breads in Ireland, have you tried potato scones yet? more of a north of Ireland thing, I think, maybe, than where you are, but no worries, they have them in Scotland too.

    safe travels --

    Kerry Dexter

    Music Editor,

  • Julie Royce

    5 years 2 months ago

    Ireland has never been on our list of top places to visit, but I changed that after reading your post. I can't think of anything more relaxing than a day looking out the window at the water and enjoying a glass of wine, a good book and a steaming bowl of fish chowder - served, of course - with a hearty homemade bread. Sometimes our getaways turn hectic as we try to cram too much adventure into too short a period of time. Your rainy day sounded like a perfect escape.  Thanks for the recipe. I have company coming next week and I plan to make it for the main course.   P.S. Loved the photos.

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