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The easiest way to get the taste of a cool crisp seaside day no matter where you live is a bowl of steaming hot salmon chowder. This version is packed with tender, flaky fish, fresh sweet corn kernels, and rings of spicy jalapeño. Similar to a classic New England clam chowder, this recipe has all the most important qualities of a good chowder, aka it's a thick seafood soup or stew that combines vegetables with other ingredients like cream, corn, and potatoes. The word likely derives from the 12th century French word chaudière, meaning the type of pot the stew was cooked in. For a vegetarian alternative, try corn chowder instead. Searching for a tomato-based seafood stew? Try Italian cioppino or shrimp stew.
Though a nontraditional addition, jalapeño adds a tasty touch of spice to offset the rich broth without making the chowder a spicy dish. If you like heat, garnish with extra sliced pieces of jalapeño; otherwise, skip it entirely. This chowder can also be prepared with hot smoked salmon or leftover cooked salmon—just skip salting the fish if it's already seasoned and add the pieces to reheat with the corn. Of course, if you're looking for a white fish chowder, you can swap in cod or hake for the salmon.
slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4"-wide strips
medium leeks, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced and rinsed
butter or extra-virgin olive oil
cloves garlic, minced
jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and minced, plus 1 thinly sliced, for garnish
baby red potatoes, quartered
fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
(1 1/2-lb.) skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1" pieces
fresh or frozen corn kernels (from about 3 ears)
fresh lemon juice
packed fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped, divided
- In a large pot over medium heat, cook bacon, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate; discard any excess fat.
- Return pot to medium heat. Cook leeks and butter, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and minced jalapeño and cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is golden and fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add potatoes, water, clam juice, thyme, bay leaf, 1 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until potatoes are knife-tender, about 10 minutes.
- Increase heat to medium-high. Season salmon with 1/2 tsp. salt and add to pot along with cooked bacon, corn, and cream. Cook, stirring gently a few times (so you don’t break up salmon too much), until salmon is just cooked through and corn is crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and half of parsley; season with salt and black pepper.
- Divide soup among bowls. Top with remaining parsley and sliced jalapeño.