A salmon chowder for any season

Salmon and corn bring a taste of summer, while potatoes and cream make your chowder as thick and hearty as you like

Photo: Studio Dreyer-Hensley AS / Tine Mediebank I confess: my salmon chowder has never looked this pretty. But I don’t see why yours couldn’t.

Photo: Studio Dreyer-Hensley AS / Tine Mediebank
I confess: my salmon chowder has never looked this pretty. But I don’t see why yours couldn’t.

Emily C. Skaftun
Norwegian American Weekly

I may not know much about Norwegian cuisine (in fact, I definitely don’t), but I know enough to grasp that salmon is a Big Deal. Living in the Pacific Northwest, it’s a big deal to us too. Almost every restaurant with a specials menu—and definitely every grocery store seafood counter worth its salt—boasts several salmon varieties, from bright-red sockey to rich king. There’s enough variety in salmon to eat some every day and keep the experience fresh.

But if you’re like me, you still get bored with plain old salmon fillets, no matter how alder-planked they are.

This chowder is one of those meals that I have to psyche myself up to make—but then once I start cooking I remember that it’s really easy and oh, so worth it. An immersion blender makes clean-up easier, but any blender will do. Or you could say “nuts to this,” like I sometimes do, and forego blending the corn (I am a lazy cook). It’s just as tasty either way, with the difference down to your texture preference.

Photo: Rootology / Wikimedia Commons Potato, corn, and salmon chowder.

Photo: Rootology / Wikimedia Commons
Potato, corn, and salmon chowder.

Fresh salmon and corn make this chowder particularly lovely on a summer’s evening. As I write this, the leaves are turning and there’s a bite in the air that tells of summer’s passing. I may or may not be in denial about that, and using this soup as a way to cling to my favorite—and all too fleeting—season.

But I have found that even with canned corn and previously frozen salmon shipped in from the Atlantic, this soup remains delicious. In the colder months, I tend to simmer the potatoes for longer, letting them melt into starchy, satisfying thickness.

Another way to thicken or thin this chowder is by varying the milk you use. When I forget to buy half-and-half for this recipe and make it anyway with skim milk (because, as I said, I am a lazy cook—what of it?), it still turns out delicious, but it’s more of a soup than a chowder. You could thicken it up even more by using cream for some portion of the milk, or give it a different taste by using coconut or almond milk instead. Disclaimer: I haven’t tried that; it’s only a theory.

On a non-soup-related issue, we at NAW are looking for a few new food writers. We adore the writers we have, but they simply can’t meet our revenous demand for new recipes.

Are you a killer cook? Contact me at emily@na-weekly.com.

The alternative is that you have to read more of my recipes, and they get steadily less well-thought-out from here.

You’ve been warned.

Salmon and corn chowder
1 lb fresh or frozen salmon, cooked and cubed
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 cups chicken stock
4 unpeeled red potatoes, diced
4 ears or 1 can corn
1 cup half-and-half (or the milk product or milk substitute of your choice)
sea salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter and oil in a saucepan. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are tender (about 15 minutes).

Puree 1/2 cup of corn with 1/2 cup of half-and-half with immersion blender. Get this as smooth as you can. Add mixture to the chowder.

Add the rest of the half-and-half and corn to the chowder. Simmer until corn is tender-crisp (about five minutes for fresh corn; skip this step if using canned corn).

Add the salmon, and simmer until it starts to flake apart.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves four if you also give them bread and they’re not too hungry.

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 10, 2014 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.