Probably five years ago on our way up to Vashon Island for an extended family reunion, we stopped in Seattle and had lunch at this hole-in-the-wall cafe. I don’t even remember the name. But I do remember that I had the best smoked salmon chowder of my entire existence. Ok, so it was probably the first time I had ever had smoked salmon chowder but it was unreal, people! And I have dreamed about it ever since.
Fast forward a few years later and I am checking out cookbooks from the library (NERD written across my forehead, yes, I get it), and happened to check out a random one with restaurants from the White Dog Cafe (not the place we ate in Seattle – I still can’t recall that name). I spied a recipe for smoked salmon chowder, copied it down and forgot about it. For another couple of years. Randomly I stumbled upon the recipe a few weeks ago and it called to me to make it.
So I did. And after that long and convoluted intro, all I can say is that this smoked salmon chowder completely and utterly lived up to my expectations and memory of my long-ago smoked salmon chowder experience.
In fact, my husband declared this the best soup he’s ever eaten and I had to agree, although that may change the next time I make soup. I’m fickle like that. I understand the unique (but oh, so tasty) flavor of the smoked salmon may not appeal to all but if you have a hankering for a fantastic, warm and hearty seafood chowder, this one’s for you. My only regret is that we didn’t serve it in bread bowls which would have put it waaaay over the top.
Note: I found the smoked salmon next to the meat counter at one of the grocery stores in my area (Woodman's) in small 6-8 ounce packages. They were next to some other smoked and cured meats. If you can't find the smoked salmon, ask the employees at the meat counter for help locating it.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 strips smoked bacon, diced
- 1 large yellow onion, minced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced (or about 7 baby carrots)
- 1 celery rib, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 5 cups 1% or higher fat milk
- 12 ounces frozen sweet corn kernels
- 1 cup diced smoked salmon (about 6 ounces)
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon tobasco sauce
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until it renders its fat and starts to crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the carrot, celery, garlic and bell pepper and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
- Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring the soup to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly to avoid scorching. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the corn kernels and smoked salmon. Heat through for about 5 minutes. Season with salt, Tabasco, pepper, lemon juice and dill. Taste a bit of the soup and add more salt and fresh dill as needed.
- Serve immediately. The soup can also be cooled to room temperature and then refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat slowly on the stove, stirring often. Add more milk gradually if the soup is too thick.