Ben Sargent got his cooking career started by slinging chowders from a Brooklyn surf shop. So it should come as little surprise that he includes so many recipes for the seafood stew in his new cookbook, The Catch. Most of his chowders are of the thick, rich, and cream-filled New England type—tasty, but not exactly late summer fare. However, there is one chowder in the book made with striped bass and broccoli rabe pesto that serves as a bridge between quick summer meals and heartier cold-weather soups and stews.
Why I picked this recipe: Sargent has eleven chowders in his cookbook, and this one was by far the most creative and unusual.
What worked: Like all the other recipes in the book, this chowder was super easy to make and came together quickly once the pesto was pulsed. The bitterness of the rabe gave the chowder interesting (and welcome) contrast, and kept the soup from becoming muddled.
What didn't: As much as I liked the bitter notes from the pesto, I thought the chowder needed a little more richness to feel balanced. I stirred in a tab of butter, but adding more cream would also do the trick.
Suggested tweaks: If you find broccoli rabe too bitter, you could cut it with regular broccoli, or even make the pesto with all broccoli. You could substitute halibut or sea bass if you can't find striped bass.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, KQED's Bay Area Bites, and Berkeleyside NOSH. Follow her @KateHWiliams.