Meaty and a bit hardier in texture than panfish, catfish makes tasty fish chowder, which is a good way to stretch fish if you didn’t have a very successful day out on the water. I like to make fish chowder in the fall and winter, especially after coming home from a windy, damp day outside. But this recipe is good any time of year.
If it’s warm outside, instead of serving a whole meal of chowder, serve it as a side or starter at your next summer fish fry or backyard bash. It’s a filling soup with crackers when serving less-than-filling, expensive seafood items such as raw oysters, lobster, crab, crayfish, shrimp, etc.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
- ¾ pound boneless, skinless catfish fillets
- 2 slices bacon, chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 ribs celery, diced
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- 3-4 large yellow potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 (6.5-ounce) cans clam meat with juice*
- 4 cups water
- 1 can whole kernel sweet corn, drained
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1½-2 tablespoons corn starch (Add more cornstarch for a thicker, heavier soup.)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Chopped fresh parsley, to taste
*Note: To add more protein to this chowder recipe, I added clams, but you can add more fish if you prefer. Instead of using canned clams, use a bottle of pure clam juice to keep the protein strictly fish.
- Line a small colander with cheese cloth and place it over a bowl that fits. Drain the canned clams, catching the juice underneath in the bowl. Set the clam juice aside; you should end up with about 1 cup of clam juice. Rinse the clams under cold water and check for any broken shells. If using whole clams, roughly chop clams into smaller pieces. Keep cold and set aside.
- Cut catfish into desired size pieces. I like to cut them into larger chunks so they don’t break up too much in the chowder. Keep cold and set aside.
- In a medium-size pot, cook chopped bacon over medium heat until crispy and rendered. Then add butter, diced onion with a pinch of salt, and cook until onion softens and becomes translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Next add garlic, celery, bay leaf and dried thyme and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the potatoes to the pot, along with the clams and clam juice. Add about 4 cups of water to the pot, enough to submerge all ingredients, and bring to low boil. Bring soup back down to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook for 20-30 minutes or until potatoes become tender.
- Meanwhile, warm heavy cream in a small saucepan until steamy, but never boiling. Gradually whisk in corn starch, getting rid of all lumps. When potatoes are tender, pour half a ladle of hot soup from the chowder into the heavy cream mixture and whisk; this helps loosen up the slurry a bit. Then pour the heavy cream mixture into the chowder and mix. Bring chowder back to a simmer and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add corn and catfish and gently cook at a simmer until the fish cooks through and chowder thickens, about 5-7 minutes. At this point, try not to overmix the chowder to avoid breaking up the fish. Ladle into bowls and garnish with pepper and chopped parsley.