Smoked Salmon Chowder is a tasty one-pot dish, ready in 30 minutes but tastes like you spent hours preparing it. Great weeknight or company fare.
Smoked Salmon Chowder may become one of the best recipes I’ve made so far. This dish will impress even the most discerning palate and can be made to perfection by any level of home cook’s expertise. If you like clam chowder, you will LOVE this. If you like salmon and don’t care for clam chowder, you will LOVE this. But the best reason to LOVE this recipe? It’s so flavorful and could not be easier to make.
What makes something a chowder?
Chowder is a soup that often features seafood, starts with bacon and a mix of vegetables- definitely including some sort of onion, potatoes, and often celery. As chefs and home cooks have become more creative, the use of seafood and bacon in the chowders isn’t always the case, like corn chowder, or many vegetarian chowders. Almost all chowders are creamy, except Manhattan Clam Chowder, which has a tomato base. All chowders are soups, but not all soups are chowders :).
What are the ingredients in salmon chowder?
The base for this chowder starts with sliced leeks, crushed garlic and chopped celery, and carrots. Then creamy russet potatoes, are added along with a mixture of vegetable broth and milk that binds all the flavors together for that yum factor we all crave. And last but not least, flaky smoked wild salmon adds richness and tender texture. It does require a little heavy cream at the end too, but how can you go wrong with that? Adding additional whole milk or half and half is fine, too. If you want your chowder to be closer to classic, you can also add a little cooked bacon at the end as well. Something that isn’t in this clam chowder if flour or corn starch commonly used as thickening agents. This recipe doesn’t need an of that to make a perfectly creamy, thick broth.
This chowder was so easy that I was skeptical it could yield the complex flavors I was hoping for. My first go-round with the original recipe did not offer enough of the delicious broth for the last couple of servings, so I had to make a few adjustments until each bowl had the right balance of chunky ingredients plus enough flavorful broth to accommodate several dips of hearty bread.
The natural oils from the smoked salmon infuse into the broth for uncompromising flavor. Serve with extra salmon sprinkled on top and some fresh chives or dill if you like. I’ve made this so many times now and even a few times in the same week to adjust and develop the recipe. This process usually makes my taste-testers tired of a recipe when I’ve made it so much in a short period, but this was the first time they welcomed the same dish on even the third night within a week.
By now it’s obvious that I really want you to try this recipe, because once you do you won’t be disappointed. Cozy up to Smoked Salmon Chowder on a cold winter night or serve it as the star of your next holiday get-together.
Smoked Salmon Chowder
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 3 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed and sliced (about 3 cups)
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
- 1 large russet potato, peeled and cubed
- ½ cup chopped celery heart, including leaves
- ¾ teaspoons kosher salt
- ¾ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 cups milk, any fat content, I used whole milk
- 8 ounces smoked salmon, flaked (Not the lox style salmon. Use the thicker filet looking salmon)
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- Fresh chives or dill, chopped for garnish, optional
- Extra fresh ground pepper for garnish
- Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add 3 leeks and 2 minced garlics and sauté them for 2 minutes.
- Add 1 cubed potato, ½ cup chopped celery, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¾ teaspoon pepper and cook over medium heat for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Add 3 cups broth, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove lid and continue to simmer until potato is tender, about 5 minutes more.
- Add 3 Tablespoons tomato paste and 3 cups milk, and 8 ounces salmon, reserving a few flakes to decorate top of soup. Continue to heat soup for a few minutes but don't let it come to a boil or the milk will separate.
- As the chowder heats, stir in ¾ cup cream and continue to heat through.
- Remove from heat, garnish with chives, crack more pepper over the top, and serve.
- This soup is still delicious one and even two days later which is not always the case with fish recipes.
- Shallots or green onions may be substituted for the leeks, if necessary.
- For an even traditional chowder, cook up about 3 slices of bacon, chop and sprinkle on top before serving. Most chowders start with bacon in the beginning of the recipe with the onions, celery, and garlic. But the bacon grease isn't necessary in this recipe for abundance of flavor and if bacon is preferred, adding it crisp at the end is good. But also, not needed for great flavor.
- If you don't want to add heavy cream at the end, you could add additional whole milk or half and half. If you opt to add milk rather than the cream, I suggest adding a tablespoon of butter to melt into the chowder just before serving.
The only change I made was swapping out the leeks for carrots. Was incredible and comforting.
I know what we’re having for dinner today! I just happen to have some smoked salmon in the fridge. Thanks for the great idea Sally! Pinned!
Ryan C. Lilly says
I’m making this for dinner tonight, but I cured and smoked fresh salmon and I’m adding corn to the chowder, as well. I’m going to add the corn cobs to the broth so the sweetness of the corn will be infused in the broth.
Sally Humeniuk says
Ryan, I LOVE the idea of adding corn and using the cobs to flavor this chowder. I’ll definitely be giving that a go the next time we have this. And we get freshly cured smoked salmon from my SIL who lives in Alaska from time to time, so knowing how special hand smoked salmon is, I’m honored that you added it to this recipe. Thank you for taking the time to comment. It means a lot!
Colette Askeland says
I chose this recipe for the relatively light ingredients. It was the best salmon chowder I’ve had!! Quick to prepare and absolutely tasty. I make my own vegetable broth from a recipe in Rebar cookbook and used local broasted salmon from our fish market, which is moist and smoky. I added a little spice at the end with Crystal got sauce. You’ve improved the recipe you were inspired by!
I am looking at trying to make this dish for the family. I have one question, can half & half be substituted for the milk and heavy cream?
I just made this for my family last night and it was a hit (I followed the recipe except I only used half the amount of salmon and substituted the other half with cut up prawns). The whole family (included two kids!) loved it. My husband ate the left overs for lunch today and said it was even better today…just like you mentioned!
Thanks so much 🙂
Prawns! Nicole, that sounds amazing. I’m trying it the next time I make this and I’m glad your family liked the chowder as much as we do. 🙂
I have made Chowder in the past using smoked fresh clams and it was a BIG HIT. I can only imagine the delicious level making chowder using smoked salmon. Very Nice Indeed. 🙂
Turtle, I hope you try it soon. Let me know what you think! 🙂
I just made this, and I totally loved it!! I’ve been craving salmon for some time now, but it’s been too cold for anything other than soups and baked dishes. This salmon chowder was exactly what I was looking for, and your recipe did not disappoint! I could see why your tasters wouldn’t complain about having this several nights in a row, and I’m excited I’ll get to do the same now.
In your pictures, there also looked to be a diced tomato garnish for visual effect, so I roasted up some roma tomatoes in garlic and olive oil and threw a half in per bowl and for me it helped balance out the creamy richness of the cream, milk and salmon. Oh! Also, the vegetable broth said it should be divided, but I only saw one place where it was mentioned in the recipe, so I threw it all in at the same time.
Thanks for sharing!
Hi Randi, I’m glad you liked it, I’m craving it again already! What looked like tomato in my picture was just more salmon but you know how red wild salmon is, lol. BUT… I’m glad you thought it was tomato because I am definitely trying some tomato/garlic/olive oil next time. That sounds delicious.
Also, thanks for the heads up on the divided broth. I meant to correct that in my recipe, and you were right to just add it all at once.