Starke's mom, Julie Zimmerman, wanted to replicate the salmon chowder she loves to eat at Red Fish Lake Lodge. This recipe, which she and I have both adapted from epicurious.com, turned out to be just the ticket.
1/2 pound red potatoes
1/2 pound sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips
2/3 cups chopped scallions
1-1/3 cups chopped celery
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
1 Tablespoon finely chopped garlic (3 cloves)
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
3 cups whole milk
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 (1 -1/2-pound) piece salmon fillet (preferably wild), skin discarded and fish cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Cut potatoes into 1/2-inch cubes, then cook in a 1- to 1-1/2-quart heavy saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.
Cook bacon in a 5-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot, then cook scallions, corn, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and red-pepper flakes in fat in pot over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until scallions are tender, about 5 minutes. Add milk and cream and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to moderately low, then add potatoes, salmon, bacon, salt, and pepper and cook, gently stirring occasionally, until salmon is just cooked through and begins to break up as you stir, 5 to 8 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Discard bay leaf before serving.
If desired, mash some of the potatoes against the side of the pot when simmering to thicken the soup.
*Can be made ahead and improves with age. Reheat gently on low heat to avoid separation of milk solids.