Make This Tonight: Smoked Salmon Chowder

April 24, 2012

Smoked Salmon Chowder
Photo by mary mary qc

"Timmy has trouble switching from one activity to the next. When the class gathers for circle time, he refuses to leave the reading corner." These dreaded words, or similar variations, are uttered at parent-teacher conferences across the country every year. Transitions are tough. Just ask spring. As the bridge between winter and summer, it is slow to embrace change. One minute, it has us reaching for knit hats; the next, we’re grabbing our raincoats, or flip-flops -- sometimes all in the same day.

For the sake of argument, let’s just say that, like Timmy and spring, you’ve got some transitional issues of your own. Maybe you’re in the mood for the warm comfort of a thick, hearty soup, but a heavy, meaty stew or chili seems too darn, well, wintry. Consider this velvety take on New England-style chowdahMary mary qc riffs on the classic cream-based, chunky shellfish and potato soup with some twists to ease the seasonal shift away from stick-to-your-ribs cooking. Instead of the bacon traditionally rendered for its savory depth, she uses smoked salmon to create a comparably rich flavor. Poached salmon -- standing in for the usual clams -- packs a heart-healthy wallop. Creamed corn provides body, and, in a nod to the approach of summer, a hint of sweetness. A sprinkling of chives, currently at their subtle, oniony peak, brings us back to the present. Dill, which plays so nicely with salmon and potatoes, adds frilly freshness.

Note: If you decide to use wild salmon in this recipe, watch the poaching time, as it typically contains less fat than its farmed counterpart. Maintain a steady simmer over low heat and cook just until opaque. Watch out for any gelatinous white bits on the fish’s surface, which appear when it's overcooked, and remove from the heat immediately at first sight.

Smoked Salmon Chowder by mary mary qc

Serves 6

1 tablespoon butter
4 shallots, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
4 cups chicken broth, low sodium
1 cup water
1 bay leaf
1 pound salmon fillet
1 pound potatoes, skinned and diced
8 ounces cream style corn
1 1/2 cup half and half
8 ounces smoked salmon, cut into bite size pieces
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
Salt and pepper to taste

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

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Wine Pairings:

When I read this recipe, I went directly to our wine fridge and opened a bottle of Champagne. Some dishes speak so clearly to a specific kind of wine that I just get so excited I have to act. It's not so much Champagne as Chardonnay. Champagne is just my favorite form of Chardonnay. If you're not into sparkling wine, drink a still Chardonnay from Burgundy or northen Italy. The richness of the broth, the chives, shallot, and smoky elements, along with that of salmon are all perfect combos for the most storied of white wines. The only thing to avoid here is a Chardonnay with a lot of oak, which is not great with fish!

Top Picks

2010 Domaine Paul Pernot Bourgogne Chardonnay
Franck Bonville "Brut Selection" Blanc de Blancs Champagne

Jake Rosenbarger

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What goes in your chowder pot? Do you prefer a cream- or tomato-based chowder? Share your cooking tips and serving suggestions in the comments section below.

Like this post? See the Make This Tonight topic from last week: Lemon and Onion Roasted Chicken.

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