Leek, Potato, and Salmon Chowder

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olive oil
2 leeks
2 cloves garlic
1 shot brandy
salt, pepper, and Cayenne to taste
2 potatoes, diced into 3/4 inch cubes
4-5 sprigs of thyme
1 rosemary leaf (trust me, 1 is perfect)
2 cups chicken stock
3/4 lb salmon
heavy cream (optional)

Chop off the dark green parts of the leeks and discard. Slice each leek in half longways, then slice each half in half. Dice finely and rinse very well in a bowl of cold water (as leeks are dirty). Make a leek-based pun that makes everyone gag. Saute the leeks in olive oil until translucent. Add the garlic and spices and cook for a minute or two to take the raw edge off. Add the brandy and cook until the liquid almost disappears. Add the potatoes and give them a quick toss in the leeky, spicy oil. Add the herbs and stock along with enough water to cover the top of the potatoes thoroughly. Simmer until the potatoes are soft but not falling apart. Make another leek pun.

Meanwhile, prep your salmon. Remove any skin and bones and dice into large bite-sized slices. I chopped a fillet into 4 pieces and then made maybe 1/2 inch cuts. For extra flavor, throw the salmon skin into the pot to cook while you dice the fish. Recall the first leek pun and laugh at yourself while everyone wishes you would just shut up. Turn the heat up just a hair to get an enthusiastic simmer, and place the fish slices into the broth. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the fish begins to crumble when you poke it with a spoon. Turn the heat off, remove the thyme branches (from which the leaves should have fallen) and ladle it up. An optional (read: 100% mandatory, you fool, you’d better do it) step is to add a tablespoon or two of heavy cream to your bowl of soup. I would say add it to the pot, but this way, everyone can adjust how they like it.

Wow. I haven’t been in the mood to cook anything new for a while, but wow, this was amazing. I sort of half used a Chef John sauce recipe and halfway remembered a bowl of leek and potato soup I had at a friend’s house years ago, and this happened. It’s hearty and stick-to-your-ribs-y, which is so perfect for one of the first freezing November nights, but it still feels light and luscious with the soft poached salmon. I hope you have a chance to try it out!

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