Despite our humid, 88 degree weather here, I found myself craving salmon chowder of all things the other afternoon. I did an online search for a Paleo version, and thought that the ingredient list of Sarah Fragoso’s Scrumptious Salmon Chowder looked appealing. I had most of what I needed at home except for carrots, bacon, and leeks, so the boys and I took a trip to our well air conditioned grocery to get some stuff. It was a great excuse to get out of the house and cool off. Although Sarah’s recipe doesn’t call for it, I picked up some crisp celery at the store to add to my soup because I wanted that extra savory flavor in there. I also opted to cook the bacon in whole strips, and then poured off the bacon fat and replaced it with virgin coconut oil before sauteing my veggies. I know it’s common in Paleo cooking to use a fair amount of bacon fat, but I’m just not a fan. I made a few more changes to the recipe, but mostly stuck to Sarah’s ingredient list and I have to say that the result truly was scrumptious! Both of my boys enjoyed the dish, and I ate two large bowls at dinner, plus a bowl for lunch the next day. I shared it with a friend of mine, and her response to her first bite was “yes!” So, even though this is not my original recipe, I wanted to share it with you because it’s just that good. And if you feel like checking out the Everyday Paleo website, be sure to look for Sarah’s Puerto Rican Beef and Chocolate Custard recipes. They are two of my faves.
Adapted from Everyday Paleo
12 oz nitrate and nitrite free bacon, cooked until crispy
1 Tbsp virgin coconut oil
1 ½ cups leeks, sliced into thin rounds- about one medium sized leek*
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch thick half moons
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 cups chicken stock- not reduced sodium**
1 13.5 oz can full fat coconut milk
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1 lb of wild salmon fillets (skin and bones removed)
10 turns of the pepper mill (omit for AIP)
*A tip about cooking with leeks: I was taught to use the white and light green portion of the leek, and not the darker green, tougher part. Leeks grow in sandy soil, so you want to be sure to properly rinse your leeks in a colander after slicing them. You can also soak the sliced leeks in a large bowl of water to let the heavier soil sink to the bottom, and then rinse several times to ensure that all debris has been removed. You don’t want gritty soup!
**If you use reduced sodium stock, you may need to add salt at the end to achieve the right flavor.
First, cook the bacon in a large skillet until it’s crispy, then transfer it to a plate lined with paper towels (to absorb the excess oil), and pour the bacon fat from the skillet into a disposable receptacle. You may need to cook the bacon in two batches. Add the coconut oil to the skillet (or a soup pot if your skillet is too shallow), then add in your leeks, carrots, and celery. Saute the veggies until they are tender- I cooked mine for about 7 minutes over medium heat. While your veggies are cooking, chop the crisped bacon into small bite sized pieces. Now add your coconut milk, chicken stock, bacon, black pepper, and dill to the pot and bring to a low simmer. Add in the whole salmon fillets and gently simmer until the fish starts to flake apart, which should take 5 minutes or so. Once the salmon has cooked through (but not overcooked!), and the carrots are tender, your chowder is ready. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a few sprigs of fresh dill if you’d like.