We’ve had dreadful weather outside for weeks now. Gloomy, muggy, wet mess of a weather. And although we are not technically yet in the soup season, I can already smell the fall creeping in. After all, the temperature drop from high nineties into mid eighties must be celebrated and interpreted as autumnal chill here in Alabama.
And so I am officially opening the soup season. Any excuse for soup, really.
Let me tell you off the bat — this soup is messy. Messy soups are amazing in cold weather when your windows are steamy on the inside and frosty on the outside, but, hey, I’ll take what I can get. Yes, it’s messy. It’s not one of those gorgeous silky smooth creamy numbers that you see in a cookbook and want to frame the picture and drool over it. Nope. Not one of those. It’s a pure flavor over esthetics and content over form concoction. In other words, I got too lazy to bother with the looks. Sure, I could have used more chard stems and fewer chard leaves. Sure, I could have thrown in more fish, but I chose to reserve the lion’s share of salmon for gravlax (if you haven’t heard, I suggest you drop everything and start your education immediately). But, oh, just imagine how wonderful it would be to slurp this thing with a nice crusty baguette, when no one is watching your table manners. That’s the best part about messy soups — they induce messy eating, which is the best kind of eating.
I personally could have made it at least three different ways after trying it, but… But, people, it’s a soup season, and the soup is good. And this soup is good. Not perfect, but very very good. And, like anything truly good, it’s wide open for variation.
Salmon Chowder With Chard
- 1-1/2 lbs salmon fillet, skin off, cut into 1″ cubes.
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 2 large celery stalks, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, slivered
- 2 generous tbsp all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup white wine (or stock)
- 6-8 cups stock or water
- 4 large red potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1-1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1-2 small bay leaves
- 1 tbsp salt
- fresh ground black pepper
- 1 bunch of chard (I used Rainbow chard), stems cut into 1 inch chunks; leaves shredded (optional)
- 3/4 cup of cream OR juice of 1 lemon to finish
Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat.
Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic and saute for about 6-7 minutes, until fragrant and translucent. Take care not to brown vegetables. Stir with wooden spatula occasionally.
Add flour, and cook for another 1-2 minutes, constantly stirring to prevent scorching.
Add 1/2 cup of wine or stock, stir vigorously, scraping the bottom of the pot, until the mix thickens nicely.
Add water or stock at this time. Add potatoes and chopped chard stems. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer.
Add coriander, cumin, bay leaves, salt and pepper.
Cover snugly and simmer for about 20 minutes without opening.
Add salmon and optionally shredded chard leaves, and cook open for another 5-7 minutes, until chard wilts and salmon is no longer translucent.
Finish the soup by adding either cream or fresh lemon juice. If using cream, heat through and remove from heat. If using lemon juice, you can turn the stove off right away.
Stir thoroughly, let sit for a few minutes and serve.
* My next rendition of this soup will include sliced ripe tomatoes, added at the same time as fish. I can just picture this soup with slight tomatoey tartness, it’s gotta be great.