[Photograph: Christina Holmes]

Laced with fennel, leeks, and bay leaf, Nico Monday and Amelia O'Reilly's Smoked Fish Chowder from Food and Wine's new cookbook America's Greatest New Cooks is a complex, fragrant take on the classic even before adding its namesake ingredient. But it is the flaked smoked fish that truly takes this chowder to another level. The smoke's aroma is the first thing to hit when ladling a bowl, and it certainly permeates the soup. However, since it is added so late in the cooking, this smoke gives way to the sweet corn, fennel, and potatoes.

Why I picked this recipe: I rarely make creamy chowders, but the inclusion of smoked fish was too curious an idea to pass up.

What worked: Adding smoked fish is a pretty marvelous tweak to a fairly standard chowder recipe, adding fragrant smokiness without overpowering the delicateness of the fennel, corn, and potatoes.

What didn't: No problems here.

Suggested tweaks: Frozen corn works just fine here instead of fresh (use about 1 1/2 cups kernels and skip the blanching step).

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of America's Greatest New Cooks to give away this week.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer out of Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, Berkeleyside NOSH, and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.


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