This rich and satisfying Smoked Salmon Chowder recipe is creamy and indulgent. With tender chunks of potato, bites of savory smoked salmon, and bursts of briny capers, it is so delicious but also easy to make!
Serve it with some Crusty French Bread (or better yet, in bread bowls!) and a fresh Side Salad for a perfectly delicious meal that your whole family will enjoy!
Table of Contents
This creamy smoked salmon chowder is such a hit in our house! It's even popular with our fussy eaters, and that's saying something!
If this is your first time making salmon chowder, do not panic. This recipe is super easy to make and is a healthy option for lunch or dinner for the whole family. You can also serve a small portion as a starter at your next dinner party.
Did you know that the Alaska state nickname is "The Last Frontier" and that while some consider parts of southeastern Alaska to be part of the Pacific Northwest, it generally gets excluded from that categorization?
This smoked salmon chowder recipe is actually well known in Seattle, where it is served at Pike Place Market, but since salmon is such an Alaskan food, I've included it in my American Eats series within the Alaska section.
This chowder is made with smoked salmon, which you can buy at any grocery store. Smoked salmon can be a little pricey for what seems like a small piece. Remember that a little goes a surprisingly long way, especially in this hearty, warm soup that is loaded with all sorts of other delicious ingredients.
For best results, you can make your own Smoked Salmon. If you love smoky salmon flavors, you will also love this Easy Smoked Salmon Dip for your next party, or my Smoked Salmon Scrambled Eggs for a hearty breakfast!
What is in Smoked Salmon Chowder?
When it comes to chowder, I have very strong feelings about one particular thing. I do NOT like chowder that has been thickened with flour. A perfect chowder is naturally thickened by the potatoes.
The potatoes give off enough starch to create a wonderful, almost silky texture. There is also the benefit that not thickening the chowder with flour makes it gluten-free!
The orange-ish, salmon color of the smoked salmon chowder actually comes from the tomato paste. It's not enough to make the soup tomato-y at all. It just adds a complexity of flavor and a beautiful color that hints at the signature ingredient in this magnificent pot of chowder.
I've also added a little cream cheese to the chowder. This adds dimension, richness, and a wonderful silky, creaminess that you don't get with just cream.
And there are capers, which I don't use often, but every time I do both Paul and I exclaim over how delicious they are and how much we like them!
The rest of the ingredient list consists of things you would expect to see in most chowder recipes: onions, celery, carrots, garlic, and potatoes.
I also added diced red peppers, which are one of my favorite vegetables. They just belong in smoked salmon chowder, but I wouldn't put them in clam chowder.
The other ingredients are all herbs and spices to season the delicious chowder, and while the list is long, the end result is robustly flavored.
This is a unique and delicious seafood chowder unlike any other you've likely ever experienced.
It's one of the best seafood dishes I have enjoyed in a long time, and that's saying something since we love seafood and eat it often!
Why We Love This Recipe
- Easily customize this recipe to your preference for spice or smokiness!
- Made with ingredients you can easily find at your local grocery store.
- Quick and easy, this easy salmon chowder recipe is ready in just 45 minutes!
What You'll Need
Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Bacon - Use smoked bacon for the best smoky flavors.
- Butter - Salted butter works well to help enhance the flavors in this recipe.
- Vegetables - Use onion, celery, carrots, bell pepper, and Yukon Gold potatoes for this chowder.
- Seasoning - Fresh garlic cloves, dried dill, dried thyme, dried basil, paprika, fennel seeds, ground black pepper, and kosher salt add to the robust flavor of this chowder.
- Tomato Paste - Any brand is fine, this gives the chowder its classic orange color and adds a bit of depth to the flavor without making it tomato-y.
- Capers - Capers are great to add bursts of flavor to any dish! I don't use them often but when I do, they pack a flavorful punch!
- Broth - Use a low-sodium chicken broth to best control the saltiness of the dish.
- Cream Cheese and Heavy Cream - To make the chowder super creamy and balance out the flavors.
- Salmon - Use fresh salmon that you smoke yourself for the best flavor.
- Lemon Juice - Use a fresh squeeze of lemon juice for an added burst of citrus!
- Hot Sauce - Spice it up with your favorite hot sauce.
How to Make Smoked Salmon Chowder
Cook bacon. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, brown the bacon over medium heat until almost crispy, then drain the bacon grease.
Add veggies. Melt butter with the cooked bacon. When the butter is melted, add the onion, celery, carrot, and bell pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften. This will take about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
Season and add potatoes. Add the diced potatoes, dill, thyme, basil, paprika, crushed fennel seeds, tomato paste, and capers, and stir to combine. Pour in the chicken broth and cook on medium-high heat. When the chowder comes to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Then let it simmer for 10-15 minutes, or just until the potatoes are softened and tender but not falling apart.
Add cream cheese. Next, add the cubed cream cheese and stir until it melts into the soup.
Put in remaining ingredients. Add the salmon, cream, lemon juice, and hot sauce. Allow the chowder to heat just until everything is gently heated through, but don't let the soup come to a boil after adding the cream. Once hot, taste and adjust the seasoning by adding salt and pepper as needed and some more hot sauce if you like. You may not need any salt, depending on the saltiness of your capers and smoked salmon.
Serve. Serve, garnished with a sprig of fresh dill for presentation, and a loaf of crusty bread!
Typically, a chowder is a thicker soup or stew that has seafood or corn in it with potatoes, onions, and milk or tomatoes.
This is a great chowder to make ahead of time, as the flavors will meld together while stored and can taste even better the next day.
Store cooled leftover chowder in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat gently on the stove.
Tips for Success
- Finely chop the onions, celery, and carrot for this chowder. Use a food processor (affiliate link) or an immersion blender if you prefer.
- Garnish with fresh dill or finely chopped green onions, and some lemon zest for a flavorful finish.
- If you want your chowder thinner, add some milk, extra stock, or water.
If you use Russet potatoes instead of Yukon Golds, you may need to add a little extra broth, as Russet potatoes tend to break down a little more and soak up more broth than Yukon Golds.
Substitutions and Variations
- Add some red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, or more hot sauce for a bit of extra heat.
- Change up the seasonings as you like, Old Bay Seasoning is a classic seafood seasoning if you're missing some of the ingredients listed in this recipe.
- You can make this soup with milk instead of heavy cream if you prefer, but the taste and texture of the soup will vary. Whole-fat or lower-fat milk will work fine, as well as non-dairy alternatives like coconut milk which will retain some creaminess to it.
- Substitute some chicken stock for a little bit of clam juice for extra oceanic flavoring.
- Use fish or seafood stock if you prefer to enhance the seafood flavors. You can also use vegetable stock if you prefer.
More Delicious Soup Recipes
- Chicken, Noodle & Dumpling Soup
- Easy Minestrone Soup
- Zuppa Toscana
- Slow Cooker Tuscan White Bean Soup
- Creamy Irish Leek and Potato Soup
Fish & Seafood
New England Fish Chowder
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Smoked Salmon Chowder
- 4 strips of bacon, chopped
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 stalks of celery
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, diced
- 1 teaspoon dried dill
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained
- 5 cups chicken broth, low-sodium
- 4 ounces of cream cheese, cubed
- 8 ounces hot smoked salmon, broken into small pieces
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon hot sauce
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- In a large soup pot or dutch oven, brown the bacon over medium heat until almost crispy, then drain the bacon grease. Add the butter to the cooked bacon. When the butter is melted, add the onion, celery, carrot, and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the diced potatoes, dill, thyme, basil, paprika, crushed fennel seeds, tomato paste, and capers and stir to combine. Pour in the chicken broth and increase the heat to medium-high. When the chowder comes to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium-low, then let simmer for 10-15 minutes or just until the potatoes are softened and tender but not falling apart.
- Add the cubed cream cheese and stir until it melts into the soup. Add the salmon, cream, lemon juice, and hot sauce. Allow the chowder to heat just until everything is gently heated through, but don't let the soup come to a boil after adding the cream. Once hot, taste and adjust the seasoning by adding the salt and pepper, as needed, and adding more hot sauce, if you like. You may not need any salt, depending on the saltiness of your capers and smoked salmon.
- Serve, garnished with a sprig of fresh dill for presentation and a loaf of crusty bread!
- Potatoes: Red potatoes or russet potatoes also work, although you may need to add a little more chicken stock for russet potatoes, which are starchier than Yukon golds.
- Grilled Salmon: I have also made this with leftover grilled salmon with good results, although it doesn't get quite the same smoky flavor as using smoked salmon.
- Storage: This soup can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat gently on the stove.
More States I Have Visited in my American Eats Series
Alabama • Alaska • Arizona • Arkansas • California • Colorado • Connecticut • Delaware • Florida • Georgia • Hawaii • Idaho • Illinois • Indiana • Iowa • Kansas • Kentucky • Louisiana • Maine • Maryland • Massachusetts • Michigan • Minnesota • Mississippi • Missouri • Montana • Nebraska • New Jersey • New York • Oregon • Puerto Rico • South Carolina • South Dakota • Texas • Utah • Wisconsin
Reader questions and reviews
This fabulous smoked salmon chowder was so delicious! I made it as a special dish for friends visiting from out of town as they love anything salmon, and they asked me for the recipe. Next time I'll double the recipe so there's leftovers for lunch the next day!
I literally just got back from visiting Pike Place Market and eating SOOO many bowls of all the different chowders. The salmon one was my favorite and I couldn't wait to get home and re-create it for myself. This sounds amazing, especially with those capers - my fav!
This is such a delicious chowder! My husband loves salmon and was thrilled when I told him we were going to have this soup for dinner. So much flavor - definitely will be making again!
Looks delish! As a recently diagnosed t1d, I'm on the hunt for recipes to spruce up my palette. The total carbohydrate number is great! Would you be able to recommend any possible ingredient substitutions in order to get the total fat and saturated fat percentages down? Thanks!
Hmm, I'm not a nutritionist so I don't really know. I would say start with the cream and maybe substitute coconut milk instead?
I made this in my instant pot this weekend and it was AWESOME! We're in WA and took the boat for a weekend away. I did most of the prep ahead of time and packed in plastic containers, then sauteed the bacon and veggies in my Instant pot, added the seasonings, broth, and potatoes, and did Manual HP for 10 min with 5 min NR. I then added the cream cheese (I used 1/3 reduced fat) and Half and Half (instead of cream to try and reduce the richness) smoked salmon and we LOVED it. Leftovers even better for lunch the next day!
Thank you for commenting! I'm glad to hear how it worked in the IP since I haven't gotten around to trying it that way yet!
This turned out way better than I expected! Glad I made the full recipe instead of half, I can't wait for leftovers. Delicious!
I'm so glad you liked it!
Wow Wow Wow! This is unbelievably good. Made exactly as written. I am going to make for Thanksgiving
Ridiculously good! So excited to have this as a different option for soup. We love smoked salmon and this recipe is a keeper! We enjoyed the smoky flavor of the salmon with the bacon. My favorite part was the creamy broth. Great for dipping crusty bread into. Thank you for creating such a wonderful meal!
WOW what a wonderful chowder. Made half a recipe for us and was perfect.
Didn't have bacon or capers but will the next time making this great chowder.
Thank you for sharing, it was wonderful for this cold rainy spring day.
I followed the directions EXACTLY and the soup was one of the best I've ever made. It was a huge hit with my guests and I will definitely be making it again.
ONE COMMENT ABOUT THE DIRECTIONS though: 15 minutes prep time?!?!?! Ha! Ha! Very funny. It could be true but only if you have minions in the kitchen who did all the peeling, chopping and measuring required ahead of time and left them in tidy little dishes all ready for your magic chef-like fingers. Like you might see on TV.
For the rest of us, add about 45 minutes.
i used smoked salmon flavored cream cheese....awesome!!!
I just made it (minus the capers and cream cheese because I didn't have any) and it's sooo delicious!
I was nervous about the diversity of spices but they blend it together perfectly. 🙂
This is a fabulous chowder and my wife and I think that it is better than any smoked salmon chowder that we have ordered in a restaurant including those in
Alaska. Very flavorful and has just a right balance between the smoked salmon and the spices. Highly recommend this to any one who likes seafood and especially smoked salmon.
Could be a oversight on my part but I don’t see where you added the salmon in your directions? Of course I know to add it but I think it was left out of the directions..Great recipe! Will be making it this weekend.
Sorry I just got to this (managing my kids' distance learning is causing me to drop some balls) but it's in step 3.
Does this soup freeze well?
No, unfortunately this soup separates after thawing, so I don't recommend freezing it.
This chowder is delicious! I didn't have fennel seed and couldn't find Yukon Gold potatoes in our stores (Covid has made a lot of things difficult to find), but the chowder was delicious without the fennel and with Russet potatoes. This recipe is a keeper for sure!
I'm glad to know you enjoyed this chowder, Robin!
TOo many spices and it took away from the actual flavor of the smoked salmon. Sometimes simple is better.
Made it twice and it was delish each time.
It looks great, However the ingredient list is a mile too long. I could cut that down to a fifth of what it is and it would taste just as well
Cleaning the fridge and freezer! had left over mashed potatoes and used these instead of whole potatoes and used leeks I needed to use up instead of onions. I used smoked trout that had been languishing the freezer for two years.I skipped the cream as the soup was just thick enough with the mashed potatoes. Results delicious . Will make it again for sure.
Hi Amy, I tried this recipe in my Thermomix. It was AMAZING!! I LOVED the colors and combined flavors. Will be a staple in my cooking. And so easy if you prepare the spices ahead of time. I have a secret - I make my own chicken stock paste for soups... Yummmmmm!! If you want to know how - get back to me😉✨️
Hi Amy, could I use cold smoked salmon trim for this recipe?
Thanks! Looks like it will be delicious!
I haven't tried it with cold smoked salmon but I don't see why it wouldn't work.
My wife loved this, I made it when the temperature outside was about -9. She said it was good the day I made it but she took it for lunch the next day said it is a 5 easily. Her only complaint was I should have made bread. If you can let it meld overnight for best flavor.
Excellent recipe. I substituted corn for the potato and added 1/3 cup of creamed sherry. My husband loves it and has eaten it for the last 3 meals. Definitely a do-again recipe.