Make Ahead

Blushing New England Fish Chowder with Cusk

August 14, 2014
11 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

I like my fish chowder to have tons of fish and a little bit of color. You can use any flaky white fish for this recipe to fit that first requirement, but I really think Spanish chorizo is the only way to get that nice blush. —cheese1227

What You'll Need
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 ounces Spanish chorizo, skin removed and chopped
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 large Russet potato, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups seafood stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 1 pound white flaky fish fillets (cod, cusk, haddock, hake, or pollock)
  • 1/2 to 1 cups cream (or half-and-half, if you must)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives (for garnish)
  1. Heat butter and oil in a large saucepan. Add chorizo and cook until it’s crisped up a bit. Use a slotted spoon to remove chorizo from the pan to drain on a paper towel.
  2. Add onion to pot and sauté in fat, until onion is softened. Add paprika, bay leaf, and potatoes. Use a piece of kitchen twine to tie the thyme sprigs together. Place the bundle of thyme in the pot and tie the loose end of the string to the handle of the pot. Add stock, making sure there is enough to cover the potatoes by an inch. Bring chowder to a boil, then reduce the heat so it simmers until potatoes are soft enough to crush against the side of pot, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in chopped red pepper.
  3. Gently slip whole fillets of fish into chowder. Cook on low heat until fish easily breaks apart in bite-sized pieces. For thinner fillets like haddock and Pollock this will take 4-5 minutes. For thicker fillets of cod, cusk and hake, this will take 6-7 minutes. If the fish isn't completely submerged, flip the fillets midway through. When fish is cooked through, remove bay leaf and add cream, adjusting amount to your liking.
  4. Ladle hot chowder into bowls, garnish with crispy chorizo and chopped chives.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Julieek
  • Ryan Amos
    Ryan Amos
  • Alexis Mascitti
    Alexis Mascitti
  • SylMer
  • ReeceAmy
I am an excellent eater (I have been all my life). I’m a pretty good cook (Ask my kids!). And my passable writing improves with alcohol (whether it's the writer or the reader that needs to drink varies by sentence.). I just published my first cookbook, Green Plate Special, which focuses on delicious recipes that help every day cooks eat more sustainably.

53 Reviews

janchristensenheller August 28, 2022
I love this recipe. It is delicious. Had never tasted or cooked Cusk so it was an adventure on all fronts. I added a bit more potato and used Italian hot sausage because I had it.
Julieek August 31, 2018
This was outstanding and reminded me a bit of my favorite Korean codfish stew. It didn't make a huge mess either, which is always a plus.
Ryan A. November 1, 2017
Can't wait to make this for a dinner party this weekend. Besides crusty bread, any good side recommendations? A salad? Something else?
Karen September 28, 2017
Thanks, lighthouse6! I made it with red shrimp last night, which was good, but will definitely try it with salmon or cod next time.
Karen September 27, 2017
Has anyone tried this with fresh wild salmon? We're getting great deals now on Alaskan coho salmon, and I've been trying to come up with different ways to make it. Thanks for your thoughts.
lighthouse6 September 28, 2017
Yes, I have and it was awesome : ) Pacific, wild caught goodness in a terrific soup base.
Alexis M. December 3, 2016
I've now made this chowder 5 times, and it is a hit every. single. time. One of my favorite recipes of all time. This is not hyperbole, and an "honor" I bestow on only a few recipes. I have been reading cookbooks since age 5 and cooking regularly since 12 - I'm now 34. Top 5 favorite recipe, all time.
cheese1227 December 4, 2016
I am honored. Thank you!!
Jenny July 29, 2016
Only have shrimp and some mahi mahi. Using these :)
SylMer December 7, 2015
Was so delicious! my husband made it and was super impressed with himself (made with: true cod, mussels, scallops).
cheese1227 December 7, 2015
That sounds like a great combination!
ReeceAmy November 13, 2015
This was AMAZING!!! Thanks so much for the recipe. I deviated slightly - used halibut and a couple of lobster tails. I'm sure I violated the fish chowder creed when I added some peas. Can't wait to make another batch!
cheese1227 December 7, 2015
Peas add color and I am sure their sweetness played off the smoked paprika beautifully.
Erika M. October 12, 2015
Wow! This is a perfect chowder. It's beautiful, filling, and flavorful. We loved it so much we had leftovers for breakfast. Even better that it required minimal prep, making this an easy and comforting weeknight dinner.
cheese1227 December 7, 2015
Breakfast? Wow, that is a testimonial for sure.
Jason W. September 19, 2015
This was fantastic. I used fresh red pepper because I didn't have time. I substituted the cream for coconut milk, and it worked extremely well.
Sixblade K. September 10, 2015
I've tried some pretty amazing recipes on Food52, but im hard pressed to recall one that tasted better. Truly exquisite dish.
cheese1227 September 10, 2015
Holy moly!! I am honored! Thanks for letting me know that you liked it so much.
Karen D. July 27, 2015
Fantastic! I freeze my shrimp shells rather than discarding, so I had a large supply to make the fish stock without adding shrimp. Along with one filet of cod, I did add 5 scallops cut in quarters as well as 6oz of crab claws, which I think sweetened the soup perfectly. I used pancetta as my meat base, which made a nice crispy topping, and I roasted my own red pepper. This was perhaps the best seafood chowder I ever tasted!
Shortrib May 12, 2015
This chowder rocks! I am guilty of a couple of substitutions including - mea culpa - chicken instead of fish stock. I used left-over gurnard fillets (pan-fried from previous night) and added a handful of prawns. The biggest change was chipotle chiles since I didn't have roasted red peppers on hand. I used two chilis and it was pretty hot, but we were both in chowder heaven. Thanks for the inspiration! Next time I'll do it straight since I'm sure it's also terrific with the roasted peppers.
whatrecipe March 28, 2015
It was a hit! The soup is beautiful, too. Used flounder to great success!
Burf January 26, 2015
This was fantastic! Made it as-written and I wouldn't change a thing. I made a fish stock (my fish guy gave me a bunch of branzino heads and bones), and even though the stock turned out "aromatic" (read fishy), the resulting soup wasn't overwhelming. Well done with this recipe!
pattyrat January 13, 2015
This is a great recipe, since it allows for substitutions and still produces delicious flavor and balance. I used what I had on hand - bacon instead of chorizo, Pomi chopped tomatoes (drained well) instead of red peppers, and red-skinned potatoes instead of Russet. Turned out beautifully. Since I have a freezer full of fish, I will definitely be making this again!
Soleil December 1, 2014
The golden gorgeous hue of that soup could also be enhanced by adding a little bit of saffron to the mixture....thats what I would do!
Tania -. November 23, 2014
This was my second time making your wonderful recipe after finding your blog today. I lived in Brunswick and the midcoast for years before moving to Higgins Beach. With shrimp season cancelled for the second year in a row and new scallop restrictions, we need more recipes like this! Tania
cheese1227 November 23, 2014
And the cod restrictions too!
lighthouse6 October 12, 2014
I made this for a dinner party of 14. Everyone loved it! I added a bunch of large peeled shrimp, two types of shrimp and a few chipotles in adobo : )
cheese1227 November 23, 2014
I love the Adobe addition!!