Smoked tofu corn chowder

As a thickened fish stew, chowder is old as the hills. Practically every coastal community has at some point in its history thrown starch and vegetables at the simmering liquor of their fish of choice, adding a splash of dairy if there was a cow on hand. The word itself may track back to 16th century Cornwall, via much older French terms for stewpot. But it’s hard to be sure – chowder is one of those things that has just popped up all over the world, getting codified when we started writing recipes down more stringently.

Smoked Tofu Corn ChowderCullen Skink is a particular favourite, and you can see something like waterzooi in the history of what’s now pretty much the reference implementation: the New England clam chowder.

Personally, I like to make it with crab meat and sweetcorn, but I do love the smokiness you get in Cullen Skink. So for Veguary, I wondered if you could work up a milder but still silky-satisfying version using smoked tofu.

You basically can.

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Potato-topped haddock and crab chowder pie

Potato-topped chowder piethink it was Nietzsche who first and best expressed the sentiment: “When you gaze too long upon the tweets of 70s Dinner Party,  you’ll end up covering everything in duchess potato.”

And so it was. Bored and confused, I pushed most of a kilo of potatoes through a sieve, all in the name of putting deeply silly hat on a crab chowder.

Honestly, if you don’t enjoy dicking about with a piping bag then it is not worth it – just slather on the mash and carry on with your life. Maybe run a fork over it to make those weird little furrows that seemed mandatory in the 90s. But if you really want a fish pie that Robert Carrier would have thought looked fancy as balls, then this might just be for you.

It’s a thickened crab and smoked fish chowder, with a load of mash on top, and it’s big and solid and satisfying.

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Soup-urb, Brighton

Soup-urb – it’s a terrible pun, which loses the place points; it is also a really good cafe, which wins them back more or less instantly. Unsurprisingly, it specializes in soup, and the soup is good.

Soup-urb Brighton (there are two branches) used to be Nia, an equally good artsy/hip all-day breakfast type joint with genuinely special hash browns. I don’t know if it’s the same people cooking, but the standard is still high.

We went there on Sunday, and the chowder knocked my socks off.

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