If you enjoyed an abundance of decadent dishes during the holiday season, getting back to sensible choices is likely to be on your to-do list. Yet, still recovering from the long hours spent in the kitchen preparing those pleasures, I had to sigh when I was inevitably faced with the "what to make for dinner tonight" challenge. Luckily, soup immediately came to mind as the perfect one-dish meal; it is simple to make and can be prepared quickly.

Thinking about substantial soups, I flipped through a stack of old culinary magazines looking for ideas. At first glance, a creamy New England chowder began to tantalize my taste buds. Traditionally prepared with chunky white fish, potatoes and onions in a cream or milk- enriched broth, a good chowder is aromatic with thyme and plenty of pepper. True "chowder-heads" add crisp oyster crackers or crumble soda crackers on top before digging in. While just the thought warmed me to my toes, I was quickly reminded that the high fat and calorie content would also hug my hips and tummy in all the wrong places.

Though I have tasted low-fat chowders made with skim milk and thickened only with flour, many were so tasteless that even a cat would refuse them. And, while corn chowders are usually quite flavorful, the intense flavor often results from hours of simmering on a stovetop. Then, a salmon chowder came to mind. The contrast of a milky broth with the tender pink fish was just what I was looking for.

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I combined expected ingredients - salmon, corn, lima beans and potatoes - with a few unexpected surprises. I used a technique employed in Mediterranean cooking to give the chowder a creamy texture without added saturated fat: I added pureed white beans and olive oil to give this soup a beautiful, silken consistency.

Salmon Chowder

Yield: Makes 4 servings, 1 cup per serving.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 tsp. mustard powder
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. light olive oil
  • 1 onion, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large yellow potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup frozen baby lima beans
  • 2/3 cup frozen yellow corn kernels
  • 3/4 lb. skinless salmon filet, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 (8 oz.) bottle clam juice
  • 1/2 cup nonfat evaporated milk
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 tsp. chopped chives

Directions

  1. In a small food processor or blender, combine the beans, mustard powder, garlic and lemon juice. Puree until smooth, stopping as needed to scrape down the bowl. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil. The result will resemble a velvety mayonnaise. Set this bean puree aside.
  2. In a large, deep saucepan, combine onion, potatoes and 1 1/4 cups water. Cover, and set the pot over medium-high heat. When the water boils, reduce the heat to medium and cook 7 minutes. Add the lima beans and corn; cook, covered, 3 minutes longer, until the potatoes are tender.
  3. Add the fish, clam juice, bean puree and 1/2 cup water. Mix until the bean puree dissolves. Cook over medium heat, uncovered, until fish is opaque in the center and flakes easily, about 10 minutes.
  4. Take the saucepan off the heat and stir in the milk. Season the chowder to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the soup among 4 wide, shallow bowls and garnish with chopped chives.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
280 calories
11 g total fat
2 g saturated fat
27 g carbohydrate
18 g protein
4 g dietary fiber
280 mg sodium


AICR