Lee & Fister’s Salt Cod and Chorizo Chowder

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Salt cod— “bacalao” to the Portuguese and “klippfisk” to the Norwegians, is also one of those items at the ethnic market that had my boys pinching their noses when they were younger. And Spanish chorizo? I knew nothing of this hard, red, spicy cured sausage until recently, assuming that all chorizo was of the soft-loose Mexican variety. Amazing how one lovely recipe can turn that all around! This rich, spicy and complex soup is a bright introduction to both less-than-ordinary ingredients.

In fact, the accessible-yet-unusual quality of this soup and others like it, is what keeps Martha Bayne’s Soup & Bread cookbook on my kitchen counter (and on my home page!) It’s what keeps me going back to Bayne’s website, and, it’s part of what brings the curious and the hungry back over and over again to Bayne’s soup & bread suppers where volunteers first cooked all of the soups–including this one–that appear in Martha’s book.

Bayne did her first soup event at the Hideout rock-bar in Chicago three years ago.  Since then, the pay-what-you-can suppers have become extremely popular. Some like the community vibe, others enjoy making—and getting competitive with—the soups they donate. And there’s the “good cause” aspect: the suppers have raised more than $30,000 for charities here, and, at spin-off soup suppers across the country. ( Philadelphia, Nashville, Detroit, Madison, Milwaukee, Brooklyn.)

Although Bayne says there’s no “Volume 2” Soup & Bread cookbook in the works, she does her best to keep posting best-of soup recipes from the ongoing soup suppers at soupandbread.net “I definitely think the bar keeps getting raised,” says Bayne.”People are competitive about this–it’s even getting a little “Top Chef-y” she laughs.



Makes 12

Salt Cod & Chorizo Chowder Ingredients

  • 2 lbs salt cod (choose a package that is as evenly thick as possible)
  • 2 – 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 heads garlic, fine dice (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, coarse dice
  • 2 large yellow onions, diced
  • 3 qts low-sodium or no-sodium chicken broth
  • generous pinch of saffron
  • 1/2 lb cured (Spanish-style) chorizo, fine dice
  • 4 to 6 Fresno peppers (or similar, mild green pepper) fine dice
  • 1 pint whole milk
  • two handfuls flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • zest from one lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Soak salt cod in water for two to three days, replacing the water every 12 hours.
  2. In a large pot, heat three quarts low-sodium chicken stock on high. Add potatoes.
  3. While potatoes are cooking, in a saute pan, sweat onions in butter. Add garlic after a few minutes and cook until soft and golden. Scoop into the soup pot; add saffron. Simmer for about two hours, checking to see when the potatoes are fork tender.
  4. Once potatoes are ready, add drained cod and continue to cook until cod is cooked through. Break up cod into bite-sized pieces. Turn heat to low.
  5. In saute pan, fry chorizo with peppers. Blot some of the fat away with paper toweling. Scoop chorizo and peppers into the soup pot. Stir.
  6. Add milk and season to taste with salt and pepper. Just before serving, add parsley and lemon zest. Serve with crusty bread. NOTE: if you don’t want to add the milk, the soup is just as tasty without it.

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