Winters up here in New England are mischievous beasties. They like to catch us unawares and tackle us when we least expect it. The sun starts to flirt and stay up just a little bit later. The biting wind calms down and stops spazzing out for five minutes. Patches of snow begin to melt into puddles of hope. Just when you’re thinking about maybe peeling a layer of Sherpa clothing off — a blizzard pounces like Hobbes pounces Calvin.
Sometimes the only cure for chilly bones is a good hearty chowder to warm us up from the inside. This here’s the ticket. Smoky paprika meets creamy coconut meets meaty beans, flaky fish and sweet corn. It’s a wonderful family of flavors. If you’re a weirdo and don’t like seafood, chicken would be a great substitute. This takes thirty minutes and it’s basically just throwing stuff into a pot and letting it simmer away. Which is a good thing because we need to store our energy for the rest of hibernation.
Tilapia & Bean Coconut Chowder
- 1 large white onion chopped
- 2 serrano or jalapeno chiles seeded and diced
- 5 garlic cloves diced
- kosher salt start with 1 tsp because everyone's stock is salted differently. Taste and adjust as you go.
- 2 tsp each: cumin, paprika, dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp chile flakes
- 1 1/2 cups corn fresh (2 ears), or frozen
- 2 tsp tomato paste
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 2 cups seafood or chicken stock
- 1 15 ounce can full-fat coconut milk
- 1 tsp shrimp paste may sub 1 tsp fish sauce and/or two anchovies
- 1 15 ounce can cannellini, great northern, or other large white bean may use hominy or a combination of pinto and black beans. It's really preference.
- 1.5 pounds tilapia or other firm white fish responsibly sourced. Rinsed and patted dry.
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- scallions, cilantro, raw diced onion, avocado slices, sour cream, paprika, tortilla chips for topping
Set a large and pretty dutch oven over medium heat with a friendly drizzle of olive oil.
Add onion and saute a few minutes. Stir in corn, chiles, garlic, tomato paste, and all of the spices. Season with salt. Let everything brown a little bit.
Whisk in wine, coconut milk, and stock. Add shrimp paste and let melt in. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer.
Add beans. Taste and season.
Tear or chop tilapia into 1 1/5" strips, bigger than bite-size because they will break apart. Add fish to the simmering pot and stir. The fish will cook through in about 5-7 minutes.
Stir in heavy cream, taste and season one final time. If the chowder is too thick add some more stock as needed.
Get out all the fun toppings in cute little bowls and ladle out the soup. Top as desired and enjoy!
- If you are serving a larger party and need more soup or just want to stretch it further -- potatoes and shrimp is a lovely addition. If adding potatoes remember they take a lot longer to cook through than fish and shrimp so add them at the beginning with the corn and simmer for at least an extra ten minutes. OR par boil them ahead of time if you want dinner quicker.
- Shrimp paste can be found online or at your local Asian grocery. I'm not gonna lie It smells SO bad, but it adds SUCH umami flavor it's totally worth it(!!!)