Certain foods just need to be made and eaten at least once a summer. Corn chowder (or chowdah, as my in-laws would say) is one. And if you are in a place where the ears of fresh sweet corn are piled high at the market (often for pennies an ear), then you must make it more than once.
There are lots of ways to go — simple, seafood, creamy, chunky. This recipe is loaded with nuggets of baked salmon and qualifies as a main course chowder, if you wish.
If you have other kinds of fish or seafood, you can sub them in. Clams, scallops, cod — all delicious. Just make sure they are in soup-appropriate bite-size pieces. You can saute them as directed in the recipe, but if they are left over from another summer meal, then you can skip that step.
The first time I made this, I served it to the kids with a quiet uncertainty — fish in soups had been met with mixed results. But to my surprise and delight (which could be the motto of cooking for kids), Charlie loved this. There is great pleasure in watching your kid eat something that doesn’t fall neatly into the bucket of “kid-friendly foods,” and if I had to pick a winner for this kind of parent thrill, fish soup would be right up there.
Salmon Corn Chowder
Start to finish: 40 minutes
2 pounds skinless salmon fillets
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup minced shallots
6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
6 Yukon gold potatoes (about 2 pounds), scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 cups corn kernels (from about 8 ears)
1 cup half-and-half
3 tablespoons minced fresh dill
Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
For garnish (choose one or both):
Crumbled cooked bacon
Minced fresh dill
Cut the salmon into 1-inch pieces. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add half the salmon and saute just until the outside turns opaque, about 2 minutes. Remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter, and repeat with the other half of the salmon.
Over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil in a stockpot or very large saucepan. Add the shallots and saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the broth, increase the heat to high and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the potatoes. Partially cover the pot, keep the broth at a simmer, and cook until the potatoes are tender, 12 to 15 minutes.
In a blender or food processor, combine 1 cup of the corn kernels with the half-and-half. Use a slotted spoon to scoop out about 1/2 cup of cooked potatoes and add those to the bender, and puree until smooth. Add the mixture along with the remaining corn kernels and the dill back into the pot, and return to just barely a simmer. Simmer gently for 2 minutes, add the partially cooked salmon, season with salt and pepper and simmer for another 2 minutes until the salmon is just cooked through. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed and serve hot, with whatever garnishes you like.
Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, “Dinner Solved!” and “The Mom 100 Cookbook.” She blogs at http://www.themom100.com/about-katie-workman. She can be reached at Katie@themom100.com.