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Salmon and Corn Chowder

Beet and Cabbage Borscht. METRO photo

By Barbara Beltrami

This past month or two, every time the wind has howled, every time the thermometer has registered below freezing, every time the weather forecast has announced a Nor’easter, icy roads, a power failure or what seems like another apocalyptic act of God, every time I’ve thought I’m going crazy from cabin fever, quarantining, covid statistics, news of partisan shenanigans, military troop deployments, climate change and inflation, I’ve done what any self-respecting cook would do to save her sanity. 

I’ve taken to the kitchen, pulled out my biggest pot and made soup. All kinds of soup. So many kinds that a whole shelf of my freezer is now full of containers of soup. 

It started with butternut squash soup, then lentil soup, pea soup, a minestrone, a ribollita, cabbage soup, mushroom and barley, French onion, pasta e fagioli and a chicken soup made with a rotisserie chicken I bought on impulse. No matter how tummy-warming and delicious any of them have been, they don’t seem to have made anything go away, but they sure as hell have made me feel better, at least until the next headline. Undaunted, however, here are 3 new recipes I’ve been fooling around with.

Beet and Cabbage Borscht 

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups diced onion

1 cup finely chopped celery

1 leek, washed and sliced thin cross wise

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon paprika

1 bay leaf

1 thyme sprig

6 potatoes, peeled and diced

6 red beets, peeled and diced

4 carrots, peeled and diced

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

3 cups finely chopped red cabbage

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Fresh chopped dill 


In a large pot heat oil over medium-high heat; add onion, celery, leek, salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes; add garlic, tomato paste, paprika, bay leaf and thyme, cook and stir about one minute. Add potatoes, beets, carrots, 6 cups water and salt and pepper to taste, bring to a boil, then reduce to a good simmer and cook, partially covered, until beets and carrots are tender, about 20 minutes. Add cabbage and vinegar and cook until cabbage is tender, 20 to 30 minutes; remove and discard bay leaf and thyme sprig. Sprinkle with dill. Serve hot with sour cream or plain yogurt.

Salmon and Corn Chowder

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


1/4 pound bacon, cooked until crisp

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 onions, peeled and chopped

2 cups water

1 cup clam juice

2 potatoes, peeled and diced

1 celery rib, thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper 

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels

2 cups half and half

1 1/2 pounds salmon, cut into bite size pieces


Crumble bacon. Remove all but one tablespoon bacon fat. In a large pot melt butter with the one tablespoon bacon fat; add onions and cook over medium heat until they’re soft, 5 minutes. Add water, clam juice, potatoes, celery, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Stirring occasionally, bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Add bacon, corn, and half and half, simmer for 10 minutes, then add salmon and simmer 3 more minutes. Serve hot with oyster crackers.

Chicken Soup with Escarole and Tortellini

YIELD: Makes 6 servings


6 cups chicken broth

1/2 pound fresh tortellini

1 small head escarole, washed and sliced cross-wise into one-inch strips

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


In a large pot bring the broth and two cups water to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium, add tortellini and cook according to package directions, about 3 to 5 minutes. With slotted spoon remove from heat and set aside to keep warm. Add escarole to cooking liquid and simmer until soft, about 2 to 4 minutes; return tortellini to pot and simmer for half a minute or so, just enough to heat them up again. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with grated cheese. Serve hot with a crisp dry white wine.