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 garlic cloves, 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 the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and garlic and saute them for 2 minutes.
- Add the potato, celery, salt, and pepper and cook over medium heat for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Add the broth, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove lid and continue to simmer until potato is tender, about 5 minutes more.
- Add the tomato paste and milk, then the 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 the 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.