Salmon Chowder with Corn and Fennel

Salmon Chowder

What’s the one compliment you want when everyone has finished a meal?  For me it satisfied, and this chowder is so satisfying.  It’s richly flavored broth takes its color from the paprika and it cooks the potatoes, corn and salmon to perfection.  Make this chowder anytime you want to look around the table and know that everyone is satiated, smiling and so happy they are your friend. Serve with Wild Washington Apple Cider.

Yield: 4-6 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional to garnish
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 small onion, diced
½ medium fennel bulb, cut into rough dice, fronds chopped and reserved for garnish
3 medium carrots, sliced into rounds
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt, to taste
½ cup Tieton Cider Works Wild Washington cider
1 bay leaf
1 cup clam juice
2 cups whole milk
1 large potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch 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
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Ground cayenne or paprika, to taste

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 5 minutes.

Add the cider 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 parsley, fennel fronds and cayenne or paprika.