Leek and Fennel Chowder with Smoked Salmon
James Carrier
Yields Makes About 4 3/4 quarts; 8 to 10 servings
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.

How to Make It

Step 1
1

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.

Step 2
2

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.

Step 3
3

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.

Step 4
4

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.

Step 5
5

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.

Step 6
6

Cut salmon into strips 2 to 3 inches long and 1/2 inch wide; put in a bowl.

Step 7
7

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.

Step 8
8

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.

Ingredients

 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

Directions

Step 1
1

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.

Step 2
2

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.

Step 3
3

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.

Step 4
4

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.

Step 5
5

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.

Step 6
6

Cut salmon into strips 2 to 3 inches long and 1/2 inch wide; put in a bowl.

Step 7
7

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.

Step 8
8

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.

Leek and Fennel Chowder with Smoked Salmon