On a delightful, recent visit to Massachusetts, I was charmed by the idyllic setting of an old Nantucket hotel. Sitting on the patio looking out over the white, sandy beach toward the blue of Nantucket Bay, I tasted one of the best fish chowders I've had in a long time. Fresh fish is paramount, along with a hint of smoky ham and cream. New England cooks use quahog clams, but any clam, littleneck or cherrystone, will work in this chowder.

Nantucket Fish Chowder

Makes 2 servings

Olive oil spray

2 ounces smoked, low-fat ham, cut into cubes

1/2 medium red onion, sliced (1 cup)

1 celery stalk, sliced ( 1/2 cup)

3/4 pound russet or Idaho

potatoes (11/2 cups cubed)

1 cup bottled clam juice

2 cups water

6 ounces cod or grouper

8 clams

2 tablespoons fresh thyme or 1 tablespoon dried

2 teaspoons fresh tarragon or 1 teaspoon dried

2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)

1. Heat a medium-size nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat and spray with olive oil spray. Add ham, onion and celery. Saute 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, wash the potatoes (do not peel) and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Add to saucepan with clam juice and water. Raise heat to high, cover and boil 10 minutes.

3. While potatoes cook, rinse fish, pat dry, and cut into 11/2-inch pieces. Scrub clams. Reduce heat to medium and add fish, clams, thyme, and tarragon. Simmer, covered, 5 minutes. The clams should be open; discard any clams that aren't.

4. Remove from heat and add cream, salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with parsley if using it. Makes 2 servings.

Per serving: 352 calories, 31 grams protein, 37 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams fat, 108mg cholesterol, 1003mg sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber.