Nothing warms you on a cold day like a hearty bowl of chowder, especially one that is delicious and adds extra healthfulness with fish and vegetables like carrots, celery, bell peppers, potatoes and corn.

Many believe the term chowder has its roots in the Latin word calderia, which meant a place for warming things; and that later it came to mean cooking pot or cauldron. Others believe it may have come from the old English word jowter, which is a fish peddler.

The extra flavor in this chowder comes from the vegetables and seasonings. The Old Bay seasoning amplifies the great marine taste. This blend is mildly spicy and contains everything from bay leaves, black pepper, paprika, celery salt, nutmeg and cayenne pepper to dry mustard, cloves, ginger and cardamom - producing a perfectly balanced seasoning. The flour-thickened almond or soy milk provides a creamy base without extra fat typical in chowders.

You can get a head start cooking the chowder. Simply make the base of the chowder, let it cool and refrigerate. Then when you want to serve chowder all you have to do is warm up the liquid and add the corn and fish. This enables you to finish it off in about five minutes.

Many chowder recipes call for crumbled bacon for flavor and garnish. This recipe, though, uses toasted whole-grain breadcrumbs. They give a pleasant crunchy sensation without bacon's saturated fat and sodium. This substantial chowder can be a standalone dish or rounded out with a vegetable such as glazed winter squash or roasted acorn squash halves.

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Easy to make, this chowder will warm up your day while providing a great way to add more fish and vegetables to your winter diet.

Tilapia and Vegetable Chowder

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Yield: 6 servings.

Ingredients

    2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (grape seed oil may be substituted)
  • 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium stalks celery, 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped medium
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. whole-wheat flour
  • 4 cups unsweetened almond or soy milk
  • 1 cup water (1 cup clam juice may be substituted)
  • 2 large unpeeled red potatoes, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 tsp. Old Bay 30% Less Sodium Seasoning
  • 1 cup frozen yellow corn
  • 1 lb. cod or tilapia fillets, skinless, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup toasted whole-grain breadcrumbs

Directions

  1. In large pot heat oil over medium-high heat. Saute carrots, celery, onion and red pepper for 5 to 6 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle flour over mixture and saute for additional minute. Stir in milk and water and bring to a boil.
  2. Add potatoes and Old Bay. Reduce heat and let simmer for 14 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Gently stir in corn and fish. Continue to simmer until fish is opaque and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Ladle chowder into serving bowls and sprinkle bread crumbs to top. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
240 calories
8 g total fat
1 g saturated fat
26 g carbohydrate
17 g protein
4 g dietary fiber
321 mg sodium