When a chilly November gust swept down Lombard Street last weekend, it finally became chowder weather at Pub & Kitchen.
That, and the unexpected delivery of more-than-expected pollack and parsnips.
It's a good thing Eli Collins, reliably one of my favorite soup chefs in the city, knows exactly what to do with such a windfall bounty.
Fire up the smoker.
Steep those fish bones into a delicate fumet. Get brioche croutons at the ready.
This recent addition to the menu is in many ways reminiscent of a classic New England finnan haddie, which uses smoked haddock (among other seafood).
But Collins gives his rendition a deft modern spin. The creamy chowder isn't quite as rich as it looks because Collins thickens the fish-based broth with pureed parsnip instead of a flour-butter roux and potatoes.
Yes, of course, there is definitely cream in there, though instead of being the base, it's heated on the side to lightly poach the house-smoked morsels of fish, and then streamed in to season and thin the brandied soup.
With an elegant garnish of fine-diced root vegetables and buttery croutons to add earthiness and crunch, plus a streak of parsley oil and fresh dill to add freshness, a bowl of this chowder was just what I needed.
With the cold only promising to gain momentum, this echo of sea, smoke, and parsnip cream is like a soothing, delicious defrost.
- Craig LaBan
Smoked whitefish chowder, $9, Pub & Kitchen, 1946 Lombard St., 215-545-0350; thepubandkitchen.com