3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 c. chicken stock
1/2 lb. smoked white fish, deboned and flaked into chunks
1 lb. fresh cod, deboned and cut into 1 inch chunks
1/3 c. heavy cream, plus more for serving
First, prepare the lentils. Place the lentils and bay leaf in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until just tender but not falling apart. This will vary slightly with each batch of lentils but should take between 15-30 minutes. Test your lentils at various cooking times to see if they are done. When they are tender, drain the lentils, season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
Peel one of the onions and cut into thin slices. Heat the olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium-low heat and add the sliced onion. Cook until golden brown, stirring frequently, then add the brown sugar and caramelize until onions are dark brown and sweet. Set to the side for serving.
To prepare the chowder, melt the butter in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the pancetta or bacon and cook until crisped, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Peel the remaining onion and chop into small pieces, then saute with the butter and pancetta until translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Add the spices and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the potatoes and stock and bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
When potatoes are cooked, add the smoked fish and the cod to the chowder and cook until cod is opaque throughout and beginning to flake into smaller pieces, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and gently stir the cream into the chowder.
Divide the lentils between bowls and ladle the chowder over the lentils to serve. Top with the caramelized onions.