Monday, April 30, 2012

This Week's Cauldron: Easy Salmon Chowder

Yesterday Hubs and I visited the Hell's Gate Tram in the Fraser Canyon, about a 2 hour drive outside of Vancouver. As part of working in the hospitality industry, Hubs gets a 'passport' to visiting popular tourist attractions in the Greater Vancouver area, for free, including a guest!

It is our plan to explore as many of these attractions as possible before the end of May and I will be reporting on where we are visiting or where we have been regularly!

Our trip at Hell's Gate included the tram ride over the mighty Fraser River, which was roiling a few hundred feet below. On the other side of the canyon, was an interpretive centre featuring pictoral  stories about the discovery of the Fraser Canyon by explorer Simon Fraser as well as a gift shop, fudge factory and cafe.

It was here at the cafe that we stopped for a quick lunch before heading off to another nearby attraction. The Hell's Gate Cafe is known for their house made salmon chowder and this one was absolutely delicious! There is a place and a time for a rich creamy chowder and on occasion Hubs and I like to indulge, but diets dictate what is 'better' for us and thus, we usually abstain from this type of meal - but unable to resist the look and aroma of this thick creamy soup, we closed our eyes and dug in!

When we got home, Hubs asked me to make him a good hearty soup this week that has some extra protein (for his work lunches). It has been a while since I made a fish chowder and as we were still in virtual utopia after eating the Hell's Gate Cafe salmon chowder I thought I would make a 'Manhatten' style salmon chowder and omit the heavy fat contained in cream as well as thickeners such as flour and starch. The simple carbs contained in thickeners can elevate blood sugars which can contribute to inflammation and higher cholesterol. So eating it in moderation is an important way to avoid elevated problems...

Salmon is high in protein and rich in omega 3 fatty acids which are great for the heart and overall health. This chowder is high in protein with lots of salmon and low in carbs - only two potatoes - but with additions of tomatoes, celery and red pepper for some healthy Vitamin A, C and K plus calcium and folate.

This soup is definitely a meal in a bowl- thick and hearty, yet light as there is no cream. I did not miss the richness, instead I was able to have more than a small bowl and not fret about calories or added fat. It is a snap to make - in less than 30 minutes -and tastes absolutely delicious!!

Easy Salmon Chowder
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large shallot, chopped
1/2 onion chopped
3 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
About 100g (4-5 slices) nitrate free natural ham, cubed
2 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 large russet potatoes, diced
4 cups fish stock
4 cups chicken stock
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 tins wild sockeye salmon, skin and bones removed (reserve brine)

1. In large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add shallots, onion and garlic; cook 3-4 minutes until onions are translucent. Add celery, red pepper and ham and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Add thyme and potatoes, reduce heat to medium and cook another 5 minutes; add stocks and tomatoes. Reduce heat and simmer, covered about 10 minutes until potatoes are soft; break salmon into chunks and add to soup, stirring gently. Serves 6.

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