I think my last meal of choice would be soup. They say that Cantonese people love soup and their entire meals are centered around exquisitely composed and double boiled soups…except that I’m not Cantonese…but to me there is nothing more comforting than the sensation of warm soup in the belly.
Lately I’ve been meal planning with a vengeance. Kid#2’s long vacation is finally over. She finally decided to try eating low carb and dropped 5 kg within 3 months (I was pretty jealous of her). And now she has tasted the benefits of feeling healthier and lighter she seems keen to keep up this way of eating for as long as she can.
The problem is that most school canteens in Singapore are like carb festivals. It’s harder because the options are fewer than the typical food court and there are no good carb substitutes. I resigned myself to having to do meal prep and planning for the year ahead! Kid#1 is also deep into the keto lifestyle and often prepares his own food for the day. So in the end the meal planning was worth it with 3 people having to pack lunch for school/work.
Soup is an awesome packed lunch. It allows a pause in the day to savour a hot meal (I like salads but I’m too Asian to want them more than once a week…). I have truly fiercely efficient insulated flasks (Zojirushi for the win!) and I kid you not, the soup stays hot till even till the end of the day. I love my soups hearty since I usually have soup on its own for lunch. And I personally really adore chowder of any sort.
Chowder traditionally is a soup that is loaded with potatoes. Apparently the origin of chowder was in coastal regions where seamen made chowder and thickened it with hard tack. It is probably closer to a stew than a soup. The thick and chunky soup/stew truly represents comfort in my mind. But chowder can be easily made low carb – cauliflower is an amazing substitute for potatoes, being only 5g carbs per 100 g compared to 17 g per 100g for potatoes. And skipping the flour roux will cut the carb count further.
For this fish chowder I wanted the cauliflower to be flavourful and not to disintegrate in the soup. So I roasted the cauliflower and only added it to the broth in the final step of cooking the chowder with the fish. The Instant Pot was used to cut down cooking time for the fish stock that was made from scratch. I truly adore my Instant Pot for its ability to make crazily good stock and the creamiest yogurt ever. I had popped into Song Fish Dealer to buy frozen seafood and found some packets of salmon fish bones. I’m probably one of the strange people who go to supermarkets and groceries getting excited about beef bones and fish bones, but there is absolutely nothing better than home made stock.
So I wouldn’t call this recipe the easiest fish chowder around to make, but it probably is worth it just for the full-bodied flavour and textures. I used both the oven and the instant pot in this recipe but if one is not concerned about flavour, the oven roasting step can probably be skipped. The left over fish stock can, of course be used for other soups to go!
Instant Pot Low Carb Fish Chowder
- 200 g fish bones (I used salmon bones)
- 1 large onion
- 4 ribs of celery
- 1 bunch coriander stems
- 3 carrots
- 1/2 head cauliflower
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 200g white fish fillet (I used halibut)
- 100g peeled prawns
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 3 L water
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- coriander for garnishing (optional)
- Peel the onion and cut into large chunks. Cut the celery into large pieces (about 4 – 5 inches long. Peel the carrots. Cut 2 into large rounds. Finely dice the remaining carrot and set aside. Cut the cauliflower into small florets and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 180 deg C.
- Turn the Instant Pot on and put 1 tbsp oil into the inner pot. Turn on the saute mode. When the oil is heated up, saute the onions first (for about 2 – 3 minutes, stirring frequently), then add the celery and large chunks of carrots and saute for another 2 – 3 more minutes.
- Add the fish, coriander stems, salt and pepper in and fill the pot up to the 3L mark with water. Turn off the saute mode. Close the pot and put the valve into sealing position. Put on manual high pressure for 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, put the cauliflower florets and garlic in a baking dish and toss with 1 tbsp of olive oil and the dried thyme. Roast the cauliflower for 25 minutes.
- When the pressure cooking is done, do a quick pressure release, then drain the stock of the bones and vegetables. Set aside.
- Clean the pot and put in drained stock up to the 2 L mark. Put in 1 cup of whipping cream. Add the fish, prawns and cauliflower. Close the pot again and put the valve to sealed position. Put the pot on manual high pressure for 5 minutes.
- When done, do a quick pressure release again. Taste the soup and adjust seasoning. Serve hot with coriander garnish on top.