Chowder comes from the French word "chaudiere," meaning "large copper pot." In Brittany, fishermen would combine their fish in one of these pots, add spices, and share the resulting soup. This custom traveled with the Bretons to Newfoundland and then down to New England.

New England Seafood Chowder

 
 Serves 8

Whether they feature shellfish, smoked fish or fresh fish, chowders are an essential part of New England cooking. Ours is prepared with a mixture of fresh cod, haddock and halibut, three important North Atlantic ocean varieties. We've made the surprising addition of butternut squash and kale--both popular regional vegetables--to this hearty soup for extra color and texture. Curry powder lends an unexpected bit of spice.

8 bacon slices, chopped

2 large onions, chopped

1 tablespoon curry powder

4 8-ounce bottles clam juice

4 cups 1/2-inch dice peeled white potatoes (about 3 pounds)

4 cups 1/2-inch dice peeled butternut squash (about 3 pounds)

2 bay leaves

4 cups chopped kale leaves

5 cups milk

1 cup half and half

2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried, crumbled

3 pounds mixed fresh fish (a choice of cod, halibut, haddock and/or  scrod), cut into 3/4-inch pieces

To render fat, cook chopped bacon in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat 5 minutes. Add chopped onions and sauté until onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Add curry powder and stir 30 seconds. Mix in bottled clam juice, diced potatoes, diced butternut squash and bay leaves. Simmer 5 minutes. Add chopped kale leaves and simmer until vegetables are almost tender, about 10 minutes. Add 5 cups milk, 1 cup half and half and minced thyme. (Chowder can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover tightly and refrigerate.)

Bring chowder to simmer. Add fish and simmer until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Discard bay leaves. Ladle chowder into bowls and serve.