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Diane's Spicy Corn Stew with Chunks of Salmon

This warming winter recipe, from the acclaimed cookbook Salmon, by Diane Morgan, comes to us courtesy of As Diane describes it, “This colorful meal-in-a-pot needs nothing more than a loaf of crusty bread to make a hearty supper. Add a salad if you like, but the stew is chock-full of vegetables. Making a corn broth from the cobs gives the soup an underlying complex sweet corn flavor. It's an ideal pairing with the salmon, and the addition of a poblano gives the stew a bright chile flavor without being overpoweringly hot. A squeeze of lime and a pungent kick of cilantro are the perfect garnish.”

Diane's Spicy Corn Stew with Chunks of Salmon

Serves 6 as a main course

Suggested wine: Spanish albariño or Portuguese alvarinho

6 fresh ears yellow corn, shucked
2 large sweet onions, such as Walla Walla, Vidalia, or Maui
8 cups cold water
2 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 large poblano chile, seeded, deribbed, and cut into 1/2-inch dice (see Cook's Note*)
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 (6 oz each) skinless/boneless wild salmon fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
1 lime, cut into 6 wedges

  • Working with one ear of corn at a time, stand it upright, stem end down, in a large bowl. Using a sharp knife, cut downward along the cob, removing the kernels and rotating the cob a quarter-turn after each cut. Reserve the cobs. Set the kernels aside. Cut one of the onions into thin slices and set aside. Cut the other onion into 1/2-inch dice and set aside.
  • In a heavy soup pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat and swirl to coat the pan. Add the sliced onions and sauté, stirring frequently, until soft and just beginning to brown at the edges, 10 minutes. Add the reserved corncobs and the water. Bring to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, partially cover the pot, and cook until reduced to 4 cups, about 30 minutes. Using tongs, remove the cobs from the pot and discard. Pour the corn broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl or, preferably, a 4-cup glass measure. Press down on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. You should have 4 cups of strained broth. Set aside. Clean the soup pot ready to complete the soup.
  • Return the soup pot to medium heat, add the olive oil, and swirl to coat the bottom of the pot. Add the diced onion, celery, poblano chile, and thyme. Sauté the vegetables until soft but not brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the reserved corn kernels, cream, salt, and cayenne. Bring to a simmer and cook just until the corn is crisp-tender, 7 minutes. Add the salmon and cook at a bare simmer just until the salmon is cooked through, 3 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Divide among heated deep bowls, garnish with cilantro leaves, and serve immediately. Pass the lime wedges and squeeze a little lime juice into the soup.

*Cook's Note: Poblano chiles are a forest green color tinged with purple and black. They are the size of a small bell pepper but have a pointed bottom. Milder than most other chiles, poblanos still have plenty of spice, with a nice fruity quality as well. They are sometimes labeled as pasilla chiles in the market. Don't confuse them with the milder Anaheim chiles that are lighter green, longer, and more tapered in shape.

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