With or without lobster mushrooms (see photo below), this quick, easy seafood soup is one of our wintertime favorites.
The inspiration for this recipe comes from A. J. McClane’s excellent cookbook, North American Fish Cookery. McClane’s original recipe is sans mushrooms and calls for lobster, but the basic stock – milk and cheddar cheese seasoned with nutmeg – lends itself to a variety of innovations. The first time we created this dish we substituted grilled steelhead for the lobster.
Other iterations have featured broiled or grilled salmon, smoked salmon, and Alaska shrimp. In fact, we’ve never used lobster, and although freshly ground nutmeg remains a must in our soup, we usually spice it up with the addition of ground smoked chipotles or other peppers and smoked sea salt. Most recently we made this soup with our own canned smoked red salmon, lobster mushrooms and red bell pepper.
Ready for soup: a lobster mushroom, nutmeg, our own blend of smoked chipotles and other seasoning, and a jar of smoked Copper River red salmon.]
Salmon Cheddar Soup
¼ to ½ pound smoked salmon, grilled salmon, raw salmon, lobster or shrimp cut into ½-inch chunks. (If using raw seafood, allow for a few minutes cooking time in soup till done.)
1¼ cups lobster mushrooms cut into chunks slightly smaller than the seafood. (Optional) These particularly mushrooms work well because they have a firm texture, nice color, and mild flavor.
Part of a red bell pepper cut into thin strips – 4 to 5 strips per serving. Sauté until tender and set aside.
1/4 cup olive oil or butter
3 tbsp flour, as a thickening agent. Rice flour works especially well, but all-purpose flour is fine.
3 cups milk
1¾ cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground smoked chipotle (optional)
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt or smoked sea salt
paprika (finishing garnish – a dash or 2 per serving)
Place olive oil or butter in a large pot over medium heat.
Add lobster mushrooms, a little salt, a couple grinds of pepper and sauté for about two minutes.
Lower heat and vigorously stir in flour. Then add milk and seasonings, stirring until mixture begins to thicken and becomes hot. Do not allow to boil.
Stir in seafood and cheddar cheese. Give the soup a taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
Serve piping hot, garnished with a few strips of bell pepper and a dash or two of paprika.
We enjoyed this soup with homemade biscuits.