Mother Nature has been giving us quite the ride this week with weather here in New England! We had gorgeous springtime weather this past weekend with temps in the 70’s! (It was so awesome to finally be outside without needing a jacket!) Then we had wind and torrential rain earlier this week – and yesterday we woke up to a coating of snow on the ground, plus freezing rain! Three hours later – glorious sunshine, but still quite cold.
I’m just hoping that this is the last of the cold weather because I’m really ready for warm weather to be here for good!
But this not-so-great weather has been the perfect excuse to enjoy some delicious, hearty comfort food – like this Salmon and Parsnip Chowder – before swimsuit season (and lighter eating) is here for good! This delicious chowder came about from what we like to call “A.I.” – or “Available Ingredients” in our refrigerator and the results were fantastic!
We combined some fresh salmon, parsnips, leeks and potatoes with some open containers of cream and vegetable stock that we had in the fridge. Some additional clam juice, pancetta, thyme and other seasonings rounded out this fantastic, comforting chowder – and a garnish of smoked salmon (which we also had on hand – but adding that is optional) was a perfect finishing touch!
We didn’t set out to make this salmon and parsnip chowder recipe to feature here on the blog – but it was so delicious, we had to share!
- 1 pound Yukon gold or any yellow potato peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ pound pancetta diced into ¼ inch cubes
- ½ cup leeks, white part only, cleaned of all sand and diced
- ½ cup onions, diced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme chopped or half that of dried
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons flour divided
- 1 8-ounce bottle clam juice (1 cup)
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup of whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 ½ pounds fresh salmon cut into 2 inch cubes
- 6 ounces sliced smoked salmon (optional)
- Place the potatoes and the parsnips in a bowl and cover with cold water. Do not discard the water.
- In a large Dutch oven, sauté pancetta in olive oil over medium heat until browned and crispy, about ten minutes. Add leeks, onions, thyme, salt and pepper and stir. Cook over medium to medium high heat for three minutes. Add one tablespoon of flour and cook for one minute.
- Add clam juice and stir. Then add all of stock and measure out and add one cup of the water that the parsnips and potatoes have been sitting in. Stir to combine.
- Save the rest of the potato water in case you like the chowder thinner, otherwise discard rest of water. Add the potatoes and parsnips to the pot and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and simmer for ten to fifteen minutes or until vegetables are tender.
- While vegetables are cooking, melt butter in a small pan and once melted, add remaining two tablespoons of flour. Cook over medium heat for about three to five minutes or until the mixture no longer smells raw. (This is called a roux and should smell like cooked chestnuts when done. The longer you cook a roux, the darker the sauce or soup will be.) Set aside.
- Once vegetables are tender, add the roux and stir to thicken. Then add milk and cream and bring only to hot and not boiling so the cream does not separate. Add in the raw cubed salmon and just bring to serving temperature and remove from heat. Try not to break up the salmon as you stir. If you prefer thinner chowder, add a little more of the potato water and heat to serving temperature.
- To serve, top each bowl with smoked salmon (optional).
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