Corn and Salmon Chowder
By Heidi Allison
This thick, creamy chowder showcases the best of summer corn, turning it into an economical yet decadent meal. While traditionally chowders get their rich taste and creamy texture from a combination of heavy cream and whole milk, this clever rendition uses several culinary tricks to mimic that full, rounded “mouthfeel,” but with only a fraction of the fat. Corn stock and corn kernels are pureed in a blender, then added to the soup to create that requisite thick texture, allowing you to use only a fraction of the full-fat dairy. The reduced corn stock also adds a heady hit of corn flavor to the chowder.
Although this recipe calls for salmon as its add-on protein, you could substitute the fish with crab or shrimp. Whatever you can find that’s freshest will be your best bet. Just be sure to add the seafood at the end of the cooking process, or, it will toughen up and lose its silky texture—verboten with this soup.
The unlikely herb, tarragon, adds a sophisticated French flair to this simple chowder. It should not be substituted. This unique herb has a sweet anise-like flavor with a hint of mild vanilla and complements other sweet flavors like summer corn. Tarragon’s other starring role in this chowder: it combines with the caramelized leeks to create a better leek flavor, and the leeks would be lost without its herbal push.
Corn and Salmon Chowder
5 ears Corn
, shucked and silk removed
1 tablespoon Sugar (optional)
3 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
, white part only, thinly sliced
1 large Melissa's Yukon Gold Potato
, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice
1 clove Garlic
, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons Flour
3 cups Corn Stock (see recipe below)
1 cup Half and Half
1 teaspoon Kosher Flake Salt
½ teaspoon Pepper
8 ounce Salmon, skinned and cut into 1-inch slices
1 Red Bell Pepper
, peeled, seeded and cut into ½ inch slices
1 tablespoon Tarragon
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and, if corn is several days old, stir 1 tablespoon of sugar into the water and before adding the corn. Bring water back to a boil and cover immediately; then turn off heat and allow the corn to cook in the hot water for exactly 15 minutes. Remove the corn from hot water and allow to cool. While corn is cooling, pour off all but 4 cups of corn cooking water. When corn has cooled enough for you to handle, remove kernels and set aside. Add corn cobs back into the corn cooking water and boil until corn stock has reduced to 3 cups, then remove from heat, cover and set aside.
Add 1 cup of corn kernels and reduced corn stock to a blender and puree, then set aside.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add potato, garlic and leeks and sauté, stirring constantly, until leeks have softened, about 10 minutes. Add flour and cook until flour is no longer “raw” and takes on a golden color, about 3 minutes.
Over medium heat, slowly and in a stream, whisk in reduced corn stock until stock is free of any lumps. Add half and half, corn puree, corn kernels, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer until soup thickens and potatoes are soft, about 7 minutes.
Add red pepper and stir. Add salmon slices and allow to cook in hot soup, about 2-3 minutes. Pour corn chowder into heated soup bowls, sprinkle with minced tarragon, and serve.