According to the Weather Channel, March will exit like a lion. From the kitchen, where I whipped up this chowder this morning, I could look out the window over the sink and see the trees in the park across the street bending in the wind.
As I left for work, I had a brief view of choppy waters on Lake Carasaljo and rain sweeping in. There’s more to come tomorrow, the weather folks say.
In culinary terms, weather like this has been synonymous with soup for as long as I can remember. When storms blew in over the Atlantic Ocean in Point Pleasant Beach where we grew up, Mom would head for “the closet” — a pantry really — where she kept a three-month store of canned goods and other non-perishables. She’d pluck cans of broth, vegetables and, during Lent, staples like clams or salmon from her “store” and use them for the base of a chowder.
Her Lenten soups — Manhattan and New England clam chowder, “vegetarian vegetable” and mixed seafood soup — were especially good for warming up a cold, rainy Friday. Since that’s the forecast for tomorrow, I began tinkering this morning with ingredients from our own version of “Moms closet,” mixing canned salmon, corn and vegetable broth with fresh ingredients on hand: carrots, potatoes, sweet onions and light cream.
The result is a Salmon & Corn Chowder that, I hope, will warm the cockles of your heart. This is a good recipe to play with. I chose salmon as the key ingredient but clams, shrimp or scallops would work well. Other vegetables — I’m thinking peas and mushrooms, and of course, chopped celery — would be good additions.
If you wanted to lighten the recipe up, you could mix whole milk and light cream and use a butter substitute such as Smart Balance to make it more heart healthy.
I’m planning to serve the chowder with a mixed green salad and crusty bread.
Salmon & Corn Chowder
Ingredients: 6 tablespoons butter; 2 large carrots, diced; two large potatoes, diced; 1/3 cup sweet onion, diced; salt and pepper to taste; 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour; 2 cups vegetable broth; 2 cups light cream; 1 can corn kernels; two 6 ounce (or thereabouts) good quality, skinned and boned salmon, drained..
Directions: In a large, heavy saucepan, melt the butter. Then add the potatoes, carrots and onions and cook over medium heat stirring frequently for about 10 minutes until they are tender but not brown. Stir in the flour, salt and pepper. Gradually add the broth and light cream. Cook until it thickens a bit and gets bubbly but don’t boil. Add the corn and canned salmon, stir for a minute or two and then serve.
Tip: Salmon leftovers, flaked, would be fine in this chowder. I used canned salmon, opting for a good quality, boned and skinned brand which was tasty and required no extra effort. From chopping the vegetable to serving the soup, it took less than 40 mintues to prepare.