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Bacon-Leek Sockeye Salmon Chowder

Recipe by Michelle Lee
Cozy salmon chowder is a perfect pick-me-up for a chilly winter day. Satisfying and packed with vegetables and lean protein, it provides that “stick-to-your-ribs” feeling without too many calories. Many versions use all milk and cream to form the base of the soup, but this version is much lighter - using largely chicken or vegetable broth to form the base, then finished with a bit of dairy for texture and flavor.

A few notes for the cook: The night before preparing this simple soup, move the salmon pieces or fillets from the freezer to the fridge to thaw. Leeks can be substituted with onions or shallots — whatever you happen to have on hand. Feel free to skip the small amount of pork bacon at the beginning of the recipe and use the oil of your choice instead, but the bacon garnish is a delightful touch! (If you use salmon bacon, it won’t yield enough fat to use in lieu of other cooking oil. You could also use Wild Salmon Bacon Bits as garnish.) Once you have added the dairy to the soup, please don’t let it return to a boil. You merely want to warm it through before serving, or the dairy can “break” and lose its creamy texture.
Yield: Serves 6
Total Time: 50 min
Prep: 10 min
Cook: 40 min
1 leek, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
3 Yukon gold or russet potatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dry thyme
½ cup whole milk
¾ cup half and half
Fresh dill or fresh chives, chopped for garnish
1.  In a large saucepan, brown the bacon pieces over medium-low heat until crisp and brown. (If you use salmon bacon, do not cook it until brown.) Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.
2.  Return the saucepan to medium heat and add the leeks, celery and carrots to the warm bacon grease. Sauté 5 minutes, until the vegetables are softened.
3.  Stir in the minced garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook 1 minute, until the garlic becomes fragrant.
4.  Add cubed potatoes and corn and cook until warmed through, 3 to 5 minutes.
5.  Stir in thyme, bay leaf and broth and bring to a boil. Lower temperature to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
6.  Lightly season salmon cubes with salt and pepper and add to simmering broth. Cooking, stirring gently, until salmon is cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes.
7.  Lower heat to low and add combined milk and half and half and cook just until warmed through. Do not let soup return to a simmer or the dairy will “break.”
8.  Taste for seasoning, then serve warm, garnished with bacon crumbles and chopped fresh chives or fresh dill.
About Michelle Lee

Welcome to my Colorado kitchen!

This series features me, Michelle — a writer and soccer mom from the Rocky Mountains — my husband and two kids, some beautiful Vital Choice seafood and lots of regular home cooking.

I want to feature the products and preparations you’re curious about.

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