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Kitchen Mailbox Countdown to Dinner Dining
Countdown To Dinner: Fish chowder elixir for cold days

Monday, November 22, 1999

Tested by Betsy Kline

Cold days and chowder were meant for each other. This hearty soup doesn't have to be a laborious process if you follow Lee Hanawalt's lead in making this delicious Potato Fish Chowder. Thirty minutes and five ingredients are all it takes.

Hanawalt, of Eighty Four, Pa., invented the soup one night when she was prowling her kitchen looking for supper fixings. "I had no potatoes. I looked in the cupboard and saw soup; I had fish and frozen corn." The fish cooks quickly under the broiler and then is flaked into the soup base created by mixing canned condensed soup, milk, frozen corn and a dash of Old Bay.

She's also adapted it for leftover chicken, which she cooks fresh. Instead of milk, she poaches 2 thawed chicken breasts in water, while she cuts up vegetables. When the meat is ready, she tosses it all into the soup, poaching liquid and all. Once it's heated, she spoons it into a 9-inch pie plate, makes a batch of Bisquick biscuit, and plops dollops of that on top. Then it's into the oven for 30 minutes. Voila, chicken pot pie.

"It's great for turkey leftovers," she says.

Hanawalt's a true pantry cook. With her two sons grown and moved away, she and her husband, Ken, maintain a small-scale farm on their 14 acres. For years she canned and froze the vegetables from Ken's garden. At one time they raised beef cattle, pigs and sheep. Now they keep horses and maintain a flower and herb garden.

Hanawalt, who knows what it's like to raise a family and work full time, likes quick and easy recipes because Ken's job at Bechtel Bettis has him coming and going at irregular hours. "I don't know when he'll walk through the door," she says, so 30-minute meals and suppers that reheat well are her mainstay. She much prefers "to make meals, not leftovers" whenever possible.

Potato Fish Chowder definitely qualifies as a meal. Breadsticks or rolls complete the offering. At 30 minutes (depending on how long it takes your broiler to reach temperature), this is great family meal fare for busy days during the holidays.

Potato Fish Chowder

2 (10 3/4-ounce) cans condensed Camp- bell's Cream of Potato Soup
2 soup cans milk, skim, 2 percent or whole
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
3/4 pound cod or other firm white fish

Turn on broiler, place cod in pan and broil until opaque throughout.

Place first four ingredients in pan and stir to mix completely. Cook, stirring, to simmer. Add flaked cooked fish. Serve in bowls with extra shake of Old Bay seasoning. Makes 4 main-dish servings.

Do you have an entree, salad or vegetable side dish recipe (no desserts, please!) that can be made in 30 minutes or less from six ingredients or fewer (not counting water, salt and pepper)? Share it with Countdown to Dinner.

The PG tests all recipes and if we select your recipe for publication, you'll receive a free selection from our cookbook grab bag of current releases.

Send your recipe to Countdown to Dinner, Post-Gazette Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or fax to 412-263-1313. Please include your name, neighborhood and daytime phone number. Or e-mail to: nanderson@Post-Gazette.com. Questions? Call 412-263-1760.

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