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Smoky Salmon Chowder

By Chef John Ash

I have the chance to go fishing in Alaska each summer and we catch beautiful salmon, halibut and rockfish. This is a recipe that I use often substituting any of those fish but my favorite is salmon. We’re told traditionally that soup and wine aren’t served together. I think that’s nuts! This dish goes well with any of the Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnays.

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    Serves 4

    Total Time 1 hour

    Prep Time 15 minutes

    Difficulty Level Medium


    3 slices thick sliced smoked bacon, diced

    2 tbsp butter

    3 c leeks, white and light-green parts, thinly sliced


    Freshly ground black pepper

    1/4 tsp hot smoked paprika

    1/3 c fish, chicken or vegetable stock

    3/4 lb fingerling potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch rounds or quarters

    1/2 tsp crushed fennel seeds

    1 c crème fraîche

    10 oz skinned and boned salmon filet, cut into 2-inch chunks

    1 small bunch spinach, separated into leaves with large stems removed


    1. In a heavy pot over medium-high heat, brown bacon until crisp, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain.

    2. Spoon off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from the pot. Add butter and let melt. Add leeks and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until leeks are soft but not browned, about 5 minutes.

    3. Stir in paprika and vermouth and simmer until almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. cook 1 minute. Stir in stock, 1 cup water, potatoes and fennel and cook until potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes.

    4. Stir in crème fraîche until smooth. Add fish and cook until just opaque, 2 to 4 minutes. Use a fork to flake fish into large pieces if desired. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

    5. Divide spinach in the bottoms of warmed bowls and ladle soup over. Sprinkle on reserved bacon and serve immediately.

    6. Garnish with a drizzle of smoked olive oil (optional). Smoked olive oil is available from and from Italian sources online.

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