Halibut Chowder

I went to my local grocery store today to pick up a quick prepared lunch, and there in the fish department, next to the sushi cooler, were brown paper-wrapped packages of fish trim, about a kilo each, for $4.99.

“What’s in there?”
“Halibut,” answered the slim young fish monger, “just cut it up this morning.” The older, burly fellow scowled at him, “We say it’s not edible,” he whispered.

Cook the halibut collars, meat side down, on the surface of the chowder. When cooked, the large bones in the collars will fall away, the skin will easily peel off, and you will have all the benefits of both in the chowder. Break the collars into large chunks and place in the bottom of the serving bowls, then add the chowder.

“Is it poisonous?”

“No, no…not poison…” he replied.

“What do you recommend doing with it? Could I use it for stock? or chowder?”
The young one hustled over, eyes lit up. “Oh yes!”  Then he felt up the packages…

“That’s the collars. Good for chowder. It was a big halibut so there’s lots of meat on ’em. …and these are the bones, good for stock.  They’re usually gone by 7:00AM,” he said. “Every Monday morning. It’s such a good deal.”

So, I bought the halibut collars and made Halibut Chowder for supper. Scanning a couple of online recipes for ideas, then making it up as I went along, raiding both my fridge at home, and in my mother’s condo, where I’ve stayed since she passed on.   I cooked this chowder in a 30 cm (12in) stainless steel, stick-free wok.  Not to stir-fry over a high heat, rather the shape of the pan lets me really see what’s going on during the sautéing process, and – when put to simmer, nothing ever gets burned or stuck to the bottom – as it invariably does in my flat-bottomed soup pots! Yes, even the good ones, it seems!

It took about an hour to prepare, from start to finish, and simmered for about 40 minutes. It was truly a winning meal.

Halibut Chowder

Serves 2 hungry, can’t-stop-eating types, or 4 modest eaters.  If you’re serving 4,  you’ll want to offer bread or rolls with it, and perhaps serve the chowder after a small appetizer.  Offer fresh fruit for dessert, and you have a nutritious, well-balanced meal. 

Over moderate heat, sauté together, in a little extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 a small yellow onion, diced
  • about a tablespoon minced garlic (I’m using up a jar of minced garlic my Mom had in her fridge.  She loved garlic, yet, she cooked less and less, and they invariably started to go soft before she used them – so she switched to using the bottled, minced garlic. It’s incredibly easy to use – though I find I have to use double or triple the amount of the fresh purple garlic I normally use.  So if you’re using fresh,  use about 1 extra-large clove, or a couple of smaller ones.)
  • a large pinch of dried red pepper flakes – a generous tablespoon if you need to measure
  • 2 sweet peppers, diced ( I used 1 red and 1 yellow)


  • 2 cups red potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium size carrots, thinly sliced and roughly diced (makes about a cup)

Get the carrots and potatoes started cooking, then reduce heat and add

  • a couple of sprigs each fresh sage, thyme, rosemary – chopped fine
  • 1/2 bunch curly kale, chopped – makes about 4 cups, slightly packed
  • 1 bottle Tomato and Basil sauce (24 ounces or 680 ml)
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup water (use to rinse tomato jar)

Bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer, then place the rinsed halibut collars, meat side down on the surface of your soup.  Cover with a loose-fitting lid, and let simmer till potatoes are cooked, 30-40 minutes.   If your halibut collars are smaller, you’ll want to partially cook the potatoes and carrots before adding the halibut collars, so as not to overcook them.

Serve and enjoy.

You’ll notice there is no added salt or pepper. That’s because the tomato and basil sauce I used has added salt. When serving, people can add freshly ground pepper and salt to their personal taste.





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