Christmas Dinner is approaching, and I have visions of standing-rib roasts dancing in my head—I’m hosting fifteen people on Wednesday. To prepare, I’ve been reading recipes, counting knives, looking for chairs, and doing all that work that goes behind the meal.
To take a break, I had friends over for lunch on Sunday. Where I come from, there’s no better way to get ready for a big party than by cooking for even more folks. It might sound crazy, but I was being crazy like a fox.
Deep in my freezer, I had a side of keta salmon that the Alaskan Seafood Marketing Institute had sent me back in the spring. I’ve cooked the salmon up various ways, and I wanted to try it in a soup. Keta salmon is particularly suited to soup. It’s not too fatty, and therefore not too luxurious, to combine it with bacon, cream, and other mouthwatering ingredients. Keta salmon that has been in the freezer for six months is perfect for this kind of treatment.
Santa Maria was very skeptical of my idea. She thought the fish had gone past its sell-by date, but I knew it was okay, and that it would feed a large group. We had four friends and their kids over, and with the Salmon Chowder and some bagels, we had a fine time. After making lunch for ten people, I almost felt ready to host Christmas Dinner. Almost.
Alaska Salmon Chowder
- 2 oz. butter
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- Half an onion, chopped
- 2 slices of bacon, diced
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 small leek, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons chopped dill, plus more for garnish*
- 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 and 1/2 cups diced tomatoes (canned is fine)
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups fish stock or clam juice, or chicken stock*
- 3 or 4 Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
- 2 cups Alaska Salmon, cut into 1 inch cubes*
- 1 cup cream
- 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter in the oil and sweat the chopped vegetables, bay leaf ,and thyme slowly until the onions are translucent.
Add the garlic and the paprika and sauté a bit more
Add the tomatoes and cook for 15 minutes.
Add the flour and cook on low for about 10 minutes, or until the floury taste is gone. Add the wine and simmer until the alcohol is cooked out.
Add the stock or clam juice and the potatoes and season to taste.
Simmer until the potatoes are almost soft, about 15 minutes, depending on how large you cubed your potatoes.
Add the cream and the fish and simmer for about 10 minutes more.
Add the parsley, correct the seasoning* and serve.
*Notes: I made this with water (I was short chicken stock); I used about 2.5 pounds of fish (one long fillet); I added extra water to compensate for the additional fish; I didn’t measure the cream, but just poured about a cup or so into the pot until it looked right (the original recipe for this soup calls for four cups, so use your judgment); I added about another two tablespoons of dill at the end.