We’ve arrived at the in-between season. In between light and dark. Sun dresses and sweaters. Breezy picnics and holiday roasts. It’s that precarious moment that floats at the intersection of summer and fall, characterized by morning fog and the afternoon shedding of layers.
I am writing this from my kitchen table, listening to a gentle breeze rock the blinds. It’s warm and there’s a fan oscillating lazily in the corner. But something feels different. I know you feel it, too. The air is different. The light is different. The trees are gilded at their edges.
I like that this in-between season usually only lasts a handful of weeks, its brevity leading me to savor it all the more. To slip in a few more hours in the garden or one more afternoon of reading in the sun.
So this week’s Simple Supper is dedicated to the in-between season. When you want your cooking to reflect the brightness of summer and the comfort of fall all at once. This Salmon Chowder with Fennel and Corn is substantial enough to stand on it’s own as a meal. But it’s lighter than most chowders. And I’ve added delicate, herbaceous fennel (bulb and seed); sweet summer corn and enough white wine to lift and brighten the whole affair.
To me, this is what summer-into-fall cooking should feel like. And the whole thing comes together in under an hour. Which should leave you plenty of time for any end-of-summer frolicking you might want to take care of.
As always, I hope you’ll make this dish your own. Let me know in the comments, below, if you have any questions on substitutions or techniques and/or if you’re feeling these Simple Suppers recipes. I love to hear from you!
Salmon Chowder with Fennel and Corn
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus additional to garnish
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- ½ medium fennel bulb, diced, fronds reserved for garnish
- 3 small carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika (regular paprika works, too)
- Kosher or sea salt, to taste
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup clam juice
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 large Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into large dice
- 1 ½ cups corn (from about 2 cobs of fresh corn or 1 14-oz. can)
- ½ cup cream
- ½ teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
- 1 lb. wild salmon, skin and pin bones removed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, to garnish
- 3 tablespoons snipped chives, to garnish
*Notes: I originally developed this recipe to pair with Tieton Cider Works Wild Washington apple cider. It is delicous with cider and if you have access to Tieton Cider Works cider or another great dry or semi-dry apple cider, you should feel free to substitute it for the wine.
- I've made this chowder with king, sockeye and coho salmon. Surprisingly, I liked it best with the leanest of these of these, the coho. I think the milder flavor of coho works well with the delicate sweet corn and fennel. If you love big salmon flavor, try king or sockeye. I think white king would be especially nice.
- I learned the trick about adding the salmon off the heat from Becky Selengut. She's an amazing chef and a seafood guru. If you don't know her or her cookbooks, you should.
In a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the fennel seed and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the onion, fennel, carrots, smoked paprika and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook until the vegetables are translucent and have softened a bit, about 8 minutes. Do not brown.
Add the white wine and bay leaf and increase the heat to medium. Cook, uncovered, for 3 minutes. Add the clam juice, milk, potato and corn. Bring the chowder to a bare simmer. (Do not let it boil or it will break; it will taste fine, but look curdled.) Continue to cook at a bare simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are quite tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in the cream and black pepper and bring the chowder back up to a bare simmer.
Remove the chowder from the heat and add the salmon. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes off the heat. This will cook the salmon through without overcooking it.
Serve the chowder garnished with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of fennel fronds, parsley, and chives.
Makes 4-6 servings.