Fish Chowder can be very simply made with just a few ingredients: a fish stock, salt pork or bacon (optional), potatoes, and fish. You can use clam broth for the fish stock, if you like.
There are other ways on days when you have some enhancement time. Make your own fish stock (instructions follow below).
I purchased an assortment of very fine quality, never before frozen, fish from the vendor at the local Saugerties Farmers' Market. Though the prices are a bit higher than the supermarket, the quality makes it worthwhile. I only purchased small quantities of the most expensive scallops and shrimp. I happened to find at one of those Ocean Job Lot places that have name brand foods, a lovely bottle of lobster stock. Sorry I only bought one...
2-3 slices bacon, sliced in small pieces
1-2 leeks, white part only, fine dice
1/2 to 1 onion, fine dice
1 stalk celery, fine dice
1 garlic clove, fine dice
1 pound fingerling potatoes, semi-peeled, cubed
1-4 bottles lobster stock, or clam juice
2 cups whole milk
1 cup half and half
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
nutmeg, a few scrapings
sea salt and white pepper
1 pound haddock fillets
1/4 pound sea scallops, quartered
1/4 pound large shrimp, peeled, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
In a medium sized soup pot, render the bacon over medium heat, then remove to paper towels. Add a few slices of butter to the fat and saute the leeks, onion, celery and garlic only until transparent - do not brown. The quantity of leeks and onion should be equal. You could also use one or the other.
Add the potatoes and lobster or clam juice, milk and half and half. (If you want to use a different sort of milk, that's up to you. I also added some water to increase the quantity.)
Add the anchovies (or fish sauce, nam pla), Tabasco, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Simmer until the potatoes are done. (If you've cut them into smallish cubes they'll cook rapidly.) Once the milk is in the pot don't boil it. Get it to that point of boiling and just let it simmer while quite hot. It's best to do this over medium heat, rather than high heat and let it come up to temperature slowly. You'll have to watch it up to this point.
Add the haddock. Don't cut it up, add it whole. It will fall apart in the soup all by itself. Add the rest of the fish, whatever you are using. Continue to simmer until the fish is cooked through. It won't take long. I like to keep it over a low heat so that the flavors marry.
Add a little bit of butter, if you like. Now you'll want to thicken it a bit. Take a tablespoon of potato starch and a tablespoon of water in a small bowl and mix well. Pour it into the chowder while stirring. Let it thicken. If you want it still thicker do the same thing a second time.
Serve hot. I like oyster crackers, if you have some.
Take an assortment of fish scraps: head, tails etc. and barely cover with water. Boil then skim. Add vegetables: onion, celery, carrot, peppercorns, parsley leaves and stems, thyme stems, bay leaf. Don't let it cook too long or it will get bitter. Cook 20 minutes. Steep for 10 minutes. You can use chicken stock which has a neutral taste, or clam stock but it will taste like clams - or chicken. Strain. Lightly salt. Chill as quickly as possible if you are not going to use it immediately.