Are you still recovering from last weekend’s Fourth of July festivities? A three-day holiday is always such a treat. Honestly though, we would have enjoyed a fourth day to rest. Once all of the red-white-and-blue got packed away, the work of the rest of the week came back to us like a firecracker. Bang! To calmly ease back into real life, sometimes a little restorative meal is in order. And since there is an unusual chill in our summer air this week, we’re taking the opportunity to make a hearty soup featuring some of our favorite seasonal flavors. Thanks to our Portland friend Diane Morgan, the James Beard and IACP award-winning author, we are making Chunky Salmon, Corn, and Potato Chowder. We chose this recipe from her excellent new cookbook, Salmon: Everything You Need To Know + 45 Recipes. (Chronicle Books, 2016)
This chowder is easy to prepare although you'd never guess from tasting it. We have just the right amount of cooked salmon left over from grilling last night’s dinner. The truth is, we hid it before anyone got up from the dinner table to reach for seconds. In her book, Diane guides you to sauté the corn in a pan. Since we're confessing, let's just say that we weren’t able to resist grilling our corn as well. The resulting flavor, imbued with the richness of the salmon and freshness of the corn, makes it seem like this chowder has been cooking on your stovetop all day. When in fact, it comes together quite quickly. A crusty baguette is all that you need for a simple light meal. The bread will also serve to wipe your bowl clean of every last drop of chowder.
Whether it's hot or cold outside, the combination of salmon and corn is always one of our summertime favorites. The addition of potatoes makes this pairing even more satisfying.
chunky salmon, corn and potato chowder
(serves 6, as a light supper)
2 ears yellow corn
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
3 slices bacon, finely chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1-1/4 lb red-skinned or other waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 -inch cubes
2 cups bottled clam juice
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 cups half-and-half
8 oz cooked salmon, flaked
1/3 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
Husk the corn and remove all the silk. Trim the base of each ear so it is even. Stand an ear of corn upright stem-side down, in a wide, shallow bowl. (The bowl helps catch the kernels, which otherwise go flying everywhere if stripped away on a cutting board.) Using a sharp knife, cut downward between the kernels and the cob, removing the kernels and rotating the ear a quarter turn after each cut. Repeat with the second ear. Discard the cobs.
Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add the corn and sauté until the kernels are slightly browned and toasted, about 3 minutes. Stir in the salt, remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
In a heavy soup pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain.
Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pot and return the pot to medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 1 minute, then cover and cook until soft but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the potatoes, clam juice and thyme and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
Add the corn, bacon, half-and-half, and salmon; adjust the heat to just below a simmer and cook until the salmon is heated through, about 3 minutes. (The half-and-half will curdle if the soup comes to a boil.) Stir in the parsley and season with pepper. Ladle into warmed bowls and serve immediately.