Notes: Use either soft, cold-smoked salmon (also called lox or Nova-style) or firmer, hot-smoked salmon (also called kippered), or offer both for an interesting mix. If preparing chowder through step 7 up to 1 day ahead, cool, cover, and chill; chill salmon, chives, and fennel sprigs separately. Reheat chowder, covered, over medium to medium-high heat, stirring often.
3 pounds leeks
2 heads fennel (each 3 in. at widest dimension; 2 1/2 to 3 lb. total)
3/4 cup thinly sliced chives
2 tablespoons butter
5 cups fat-skimmed chicken broth
1 dried bay leaf
3 pounds thin-skinned potatoes
1 pound thin-sliced smoked salmon (see notes)
5 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
About 1/2 teaspoon salt
About 1/8 teaspoon pepper
How to Make It
Trim and discard root ends and coarse tops from leeks. Cut leeks in half lengthwise and rinse under running water, flipping layers to flush out grit; drain, then thinly slice crosswise.
Rinse fennel. Trim off and discard root ends and stalks; reserve 2 or 3 sprigs of feathery green tops for garnish, and finely chop enough of the remaining feathery leaves to make 3 tablespoons (discard any remaining greens). In a bowl, mix chopped greens with chives; cover and chill. Chop fennel heads.
In a 6- to 8-quart pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add leeks and chopped fennel heads, cover, and stir occasionally until vegetables are very limp, 10 to 12 minutes.
Add broth and bay leaf to pan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Scrub potatoes and cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes.
Add potatoes to broth mixture and return to a simmer; reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender when pierced, 15 to 20 minutes.
Cut salmon into strips 2 to 3 inches long and 1/2 inch wide; put in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk milk, flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper until smooth. Add to potato-broth mixture and stir over high heat until boiling, about 5 minutes. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
Serve soup from pan, or pour into a tureen. Garnish with reserved fennel sprigs. Offer with smoked salmon and chive mixture to add to taste.
I added the corn and bell pepper as other reviewers suggested. I also added a 1/4 tsp of cayenne and 1/4 tsp of smoked paprika. It was still lacking something. We cut the recipe in half for the most part, although I used 4 cups of broth and 1 pound of potatoes. It was plenty of food for 6 people. I'm having leftovers for lunch today, so I'm hoping the flavors have blended a little bit more.
This was a really tasty, filling and lovely recipe. I only gave it 4 stars out of 5 (even though what I ended up making had a 5-star taste, but it wasn't the recipe as written). I added the smoked salmon and fennel tops at the end and this infused the chowder with a wonderful smokey flavor. Served topped with chives and cracked papper. This was a great way to use a small amount of quality fish w/o breaking the bank - a little went a long way in this soup. This recipe makes A LOT of soup, but it's chalk-full of beautiful vegetables and all the chopping is worth it. Reheated better the 2nd and 3rd day. Enjoy!
I followed the other reviewer's suggestion and added red bell pepper and corn. This was DELICIOUS! I also just mixed in the smoked salmon at the end instead of saving it for topping. I will definitely be making this again. Since it's just the two of us I halved the recipe and we still had plenty of leftovers. I used some canned smoked salmon I had in the cupboard and it was fine.
This soup has potential. Following the recipe as written, I found it rather bland and very "white." After having one bowl of it, I actually added the salmon and the fennel greens/scallions mixture right into the soup, rather than just using it as a topping. I added some red pepper flakes, and quite a bit more black pepper than the recipe called for. Not only did that make it quite a bit tastier, it was more appetizing looking with the extra color. Next time I will add red bell pepper in with the leeks and fennel. That will give it more color as well. This recipe makes a LOT. Next time I will add more flour as well, as I think it needs to be a little thicker. With these additions, I ended up with a winner. I think corn would be a tasty addition as well.
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