Tuna chowder

14 Oct

Tuna chowder

The word “chowder” has such a North American ring to it. You don’t seem to get chowders much in the UK, which is a shame because its a perfect match for the English climate and local ingredients. There is nothing fancy about this tuna chowder – just potatoes, onions, tuna, corn, dill and milk, transformed into something supremely tasty and satisfying.

This was one of my favourite dinners as a child. Mum had a big china tureen she would transfer the tuna chowder into before bringing it to the table. I don’t own a tureen myself, and probably wouldn’t use it if I did. But I always liked the way she took that extra bit of effort to make family dinners feel special. To make us feel special really…

This tuna chowder is thickened with flour – a technique I seldom use these days, usually opting for cream instead. But I like the flour here – it seems right. And it turns out chowders were originally thickened with crumbled crackers or ship’s biscuit, so it’s authentic as well.

According to the Online Entymology website, the word chowder is an American English word from 1751, “apparently named for the pot it was cooked in: French chaudière “a pot” (12c.), from Late Latin caldaria. The word and the practice was introduced in Newfoundland by Breton fishermen, and spread to New England.”

Searching online for  tuna chowder, I found ones with beans, others with cheddar cheese, but nothing quite like this recipe…

Tuna chowder
(serves 8)

  • 2 tins whole tuna, packed in oil
  • 3 large onions, chopped
  • 5 potatoes, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 cups corn (frozen, tinned or fresh)
  • 2 Tb fresh dill (dried is fine too, but use half as much)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  1. Drain the oil from the tuna into a large soup pot. Add the onions and fry slowly, until soft and golden.
  2. Add the potatoes and cook for a few minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add enough water to cover the vegetables by about an inch (this is about three cups with my soup pot). Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about twenty minutes, or until the potato is tender.
  4. Add the milk, corn and dill, then slowly reheat the soup to a simmer.
  5. Whisk the flour with half a cup of water (or add them to a jar, put the lid on and give it a good shake). Add the flour mixture to the chowder, and stir until the chowder thickens.
  6. Excellent with baking powder biscuits.


4 Responses to “Tuna chowder”

  1. Adam Garfunkel October 14, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    Great piece today Andrea. I love the idea of Fern transferring the chowder to a tureen to make you kids all feel special, as you said. Bless her!

    • Andrea October 14, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

      Thank you, Adam! It’s funny the difference little things like that can make…

  2. Brenda Nielsen January 14, 2015 at 7:13 pm #

    Hi Andrea. So much to say, but I’ll try to stay on topic…I’ve been wandering around this site reliving some great childhood memories – I remember making tuna chowder and baking powder biscuits with you when we were about 9 or 10 and transferring the soup to the tureen. I was in awe, as was often the case at your house, a serving bowl with a lid! It all seemed so sophisticated. You sure eat well – a long way from Heinz spaghetti surprise!

    • Andrea January 14, 2015 at 10:19 pm #

      Hi – what a wonderful surprise to hear from you! I remember that – and also making those pizza kits together at your house. My mum was a great one for using her special dishes, eating meals by candlelight, and so on. I didn’t give it much thought as a kid, but looking back I appreciate the effort she put in. I guess we do eat pretty well – it’s a surprise to me when I see it all together on the blog…

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