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Jul 10, 2018
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WINE WITH…Salmon and Corn Chowder

One can argue about whether chowder is more a summer or a winter dish, but the truth is that it’s both, depending on how the chowder is made.  The difference is subtle, with summery versions being lighter in both flavor and texture while winter chowders call for richer broth and heavier cream, plus a generous hand with seasonings such as bay leaf and paprika.  Ham, bacon and/or salt pork are often included in winter chowders, and the soup may be garnished with pork or duck cracklings, or crumbled bacon.  In summer we leave out the meat and include more corn in the chowder, and lighter cream.  And tomatoes?  Much as we love Manhattan clam chowder,  we are more apt to follow the lead of purists who insist that the presence of tomatoes disqualifies this dish as a chowder.

On the rare occasions when we have leftover grilled, roasted or poached salmon we’ll use that for the chowder.  The exact amount doesn’t much matter (a larger portion of salmon yields a richer dish, but even a modest amount will add flavor and color to any rendition).

Salmon and Corn Chowder

Serves 4

About ½ pound salmon, cooked or raw
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 ears corn
1 cup light cream or half-and-half
2 cups chicken broth or bottled clam broth
4 Yukon gold potatoes, cooked, peeled and cut in large dice
salt and pepper
cayenne pepper to taste
paprika and/or minced chives for garnish

If you are using cooked salmon, break it up into flakes.  If it is raw, cut it into 1-inch or so cubes.

Heat the olive oil in a very large saucepan or Dutch oven.  Add the onion and cook until it softens; then add the garlic and cook another minute or two.
Cut the kernels off the corn.  Place 1 cup of corn kernels in a blender with ½ cup of the half-and-half.  Puree the mixture; then stir it into the pan with the onions.  Add the remaining corn kernels, pour in the chicken or clam broth, and season with salt, pepper and cayenne.  Add the salmon and potatoes and bring to a simmer.  Cook, uncovered, for 3-4 minutes, then check for seasoning and ladle the chowder into individual bowls. Garnish with paprika and or chives.

*         *         *

Pairing equally well with reds, whites, and rosés, as well as bubblies, this is a fairly rich and substantial dish.  It needs a wine, regardless of color or texture, with some structural heft and fairly blunt flavors.  Avoid, then, any wine whose principal appeal comes from delicacy.  Straight-forward taste will yield equally straight-forward pleasure.

Connect  on Twitter:   @M_L_Thomas  and  @Wine_With_
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Approx. Price





Mendocino County


Rosé of Pinot Noir

“Tous Ensemble”








Fresh and vibrant, with plenty of bright summer red berry fruit flavor, this wine echoed the salmon in the dish in color while providing lift and liveliness on the palate.


Kendall Jackson,

Anderson Valley

Mendocino County


Pinot Noir

“Jackson Estate”





A sumptuous example of California Pinot, with sweet cherry-tinged fruit that seems much drier and more savory when paired with food than when drunk alone.  It complemented the chowder admirably.


Two Angels,

High Valley

Lake County


Sauvignon Blanc










Most Sauvignon Blancs probably would be too light for this dish, but California versions tend to be more substantial than most.  This one tastes of citrus and tropical fruit.  While bold, it is not at all aggressive, so proved chowder-friendly. 


Vino Dei Fratelli,

Prosecco DOC


Extra Dry


(Imported by Quintessential)










We love bubbles with soup, and this one worked wonderfully due to the textural contrast the fizz provided.  But equally enjoyable were the flavors.  The wine is somewhat sweet, and as a result it paired exceptionally well with all the corn in the chowder. 



Writer’s Block,

Lake County










With a somewhat waxy texture and fruit flavors resembling green melons, this wine has an intriguingly distinctive personality.  No lightweight, its muscle enabled it to pair well with the dish.