Smoked Salmon Chowder

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.

Smoked Salmon Chowder

What To ServeStore bought or homemade bread bowls (for homemade I suggest these Bread Bowls)
A green salad like this Spinach Strawberry Salad
Sliced cheddar cheese

One Year Ago: Mexican Lasagna
Two Years Ago: Oatmeal Chocolate Caramel Bars
Three Years Ago: Lemon Cream Pasta with Chicken

Smoked Salmon Chowder

Yield: Serves 4-6

Smoked Salmon Chowder

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
  • ΒΌ 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
  • ΒΌ teaspoon tobasco sauce
  • Β½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Recipe Source: adapted from the White Dog Cafe Cookbook

46 Responses to Smoked Salmon Chowder

  1. Milt says:

    Made this exactly to thr recipe (rare for me). Delicious. Everyone had seconds. Thank you.

  2. Line says:

    Hi Mel,
    Thanks for sharing this great recipe I’ve made several times already, with a slight alteration: half smoked salmon, half fresh salmon.
    However, we (and my Other Half even less) are not keen on the corn here (I think it tastes strange & probably a bit sweet to our French palates).
    What do you think we could replace it with, to keep the amount of veggies? Leek? Fennel?
    thanks a lot for your advice

  3. Robin says:

    I made this chowder with fresh corn and it is delicious. I was worried that the bacon would overpower the salmon, but it did not and probably contributed to the amazing smokey flavor from the salmon.

  4. Elisabeth says:

    I cannot for the life of me to ever get anything to thicken with the amount of flour things call for. Do you have any idea why that might be? I follow the instructions, I just doesn’t seem to ever work. I LOVE this recipe though! It was delicious and I will certainly make it again and again!

    • Mel says:

      I’m not sure, Elisabeth – that’s strange, especially if it happens across the board in recipes that you try. You might try increasing the flour next time to see if that helps.

  5. Carol Waltman says:

    That Smoked Salmon Chowder has got to be the best you’ve made for us and so delicious with the bread sticks. My husband doesn’t always like fish, but loved that.
    You’re the best neighbor ever. Thanks Melanie dear!

  6. Kristi says:

    Hey Mel! Just a quick question: Do you think the leftovers would freeze well? And if so, how would you go about reheating? I’m always nervous about freezing diary based soups! This chowder turned out SO, SO well! I don’t think I’ve ever witness my son and husband inhale anything so quickly!

    • Mel says:

      HI Kristi – I’ve actually tried freezing this and it isn’t my favorite reheated – kind of grainy and texturally not as good as when it’s made fresh or reheated from the refrigerated. Glad your family loved it!

  7. Tanya says:

    I am a native Seattleite, and this is so good, I am making it for the second time in 1 week! Only thing I did differently was added about 6 cubed red potatoes, and divided milk amount into chicken broth/milk and some heavy cream. So good!!

  8. Diane Dirks says:

    Hi Mel,

    Did you use cold smoked salmon (also known as ‘lox’) or hot smoked salmon (it’s slightly dry-er and smokier)? Looks like a great recipe! Will try it!


  9. Michelle Hutchins says:

    I just discovered your website and already made the chicken nuggets and the salmon chowder. The chowder was a big hit with my husband and 14 year old daughter! The only changes I made, was: I skipped the butter ( by accident) and used skim milk (3cups) and 1/2% buttermilk (2 cups). I also skipped the dill. I was just trying to use up what I had in the house. It was amazing and I felt like I was eating something very decadent! I am already choosing the next recipe to cook!

  10. Katie says:

    Was this from Pike Place Chowder in Post Alley? That place has the BEST chowder…in bread bowls to boot! I’m totally making this chowder this winter. Thanks!

  11. Amanda Z says:

    I just made this tonight and it was so good! My husband loves smoked salmon, so I was excited to give this a try and we were not disappointed (as usual) Even though the chopping is time consuming, I love the recipes with lots of fresh veggies in it! Thanks for another great dinner, you’re the best!!!

  12. Caitlin says:

    Ok, I am normally a pretty good cook, but I messed this one up. I didn’t use bacon when I made this tonight, and when the soup had been simmering for about 10 minutes it completely curdled, so much so that it had a really unpleasant texture when I tasted it (I think because it didn’t have the extra fat in it that the bacon would have provided). I managed to save it though. I pureed the base with my immersion blender and then proceeded to add the corn and salmon. The flavour was really good and mine ended up being a coral colour because of the pureed pepper and carrot, haha! I will make this again and next time I will add the bacon πŸ˜‰

  13. Leah says:

    Thank you for this amazing recipe. It was a hit at my house. We served it in a bread bowl and everyone was full and happy.

  14. Vicky says:

    I’m glad I saw this linked on your new brown rice post. I had totally forgotten it! Made it tonight and we loved it. I’m sure fresh dill would have been delightful, but I only had dried. I didn’t want to overwhelm the smoky flavor with dill so I only used about 1/4 teaspoon. Ate it with whole wheat French bread rolls and it was a nice, filling meal. Thanks!

  15. Lisa says:

    Hi Mel,
    I used to make Smoked Salmon Chowder in my restaurant here in the desert of Arizona. It went over real well. I actually added diced russet potatoes to the vegi mixture when sauteing, adds some bulk to it. Serve it in a bread bowl, sprinkle a little fresh dill on top and your set. Yummo!

  16. Renee H. says:

    Looking forward to trying this. I have some canned salmon in my pantry and am wondering if I might achieve a similar result by using it and some liquid smoke. What do you think?

  17. Heidi says:

    I loved this recipe! I never considered salmon in a soup!! But, hey, even my picky 3 year old ate the entire bowl. I used canned salmon and it was fabulous-o!! I ate it for leftovers the next day over a baked potato and YUM once again. This will be sticking around!! Thanks!

  18. shelvia says:

    Oh my, this soup was super delicious. I didn’t use bacon as hubby does not eat red meat, but I put 1 tablespoon of jarred caramelised onion. Served this with your Herb Focaccia Bread. Loved them both. Perfect pick me up for my flu head. Thanks so much! Please keep your awesome recipes coming. πŸ™‚

  19. Mel says:

    Stephanie – I’m pretty sure it was cold smoked salmon I used but you could probably use either one.

  20. Stephanie says:

    Just a quick question, is it hot smoked or cold smoked salmon?

  21. tonya says:

    Delicious!! And no regrets here…served it in bread bowls. ;o)

    Leftovers tonight…my mouth’s already watering!!

  22. Emily says:

    Hah, I’m a librarian with three cookbooks sitting on my desk at the moment, one of which is from the library. With unlimited renewals, the cookbooks from my work could pretty much become mine. πŸ™‚ I’m planning to make this soup very soon!

  23. Mara says:

    I made this tonight, and it’s delicious. I’ll probably skip the lemon next time though – it made the soup curdle in an unattractive way. Still tastes fine, and it’s just the two of us at home so I don’t really mind if it looks a little funky, but if I can avoid it…

  24. Rhonda says:

    I am seriously in need of some of this right now πŸ™‚ This looks wonderful.

  25. Jennifer Smith says:

    This is so fantastic. Might be the best soup I have ever eaten. It is by far the best soup I have ever made! Thank you!

  26. This looks delicious, Mel! I love salmon – posted about it today in fact – and I know I’d love this chowder. Thanks for sharing.

  27. Mel says:

    Lisa – this is a pretty rich soup and the butter definitely helps contribute to the deliciousness – the butter fat also helps the roux come together and thicken the soup. Having said that, depending on how much fat your bacon renders, you may be able to get away without using it. It’s probably worth a try!

    Vieve – the bacon definitely adds a wonderful quality to the soup but I think, especially in honor of Lent, you could make without and still have a delicious result.

  28. Vieve says:

    Looks SO wonderful! Dare I make it without bacon to make into a Lenten meal?

  29. bdubz says:

    My son is (finally!!) coming home from India next week – this is so getting made as part of the week of welcome home feasts – along with your chilli, chimichangas, cinnamon rolls, cowboy cookies, other things beginning with C…in my head he actually hasn’t eaten for five whole months and I just have to feeeeed him! πŸ™‚

  30. Annie says:

    Um…did you just call me a nerd? Well, I resemble that remark! Keep up the great recipes! And…you had me at smoked salmon πŸ˜‰

  31. Lisa says:

    This looks delicious! I’m just wondering if the butter is really necessary though since the bacon already produces so much grease? Do you think it’s for the flavor of it? Or maybe since it’s only 4 pieces of bacon that there wouldn’t be enough grease?

    Thanks for the recipe! I look forward to making it!

  32. Vicky says:

    I have at least 4 cookbooks checked out from the library right now. And yes, I do kinda feel like a nerd. But no, I don’t care. This chowder sounds delicious. We live in NW Washington so next time we have some smoked salmon on hand I’ll put it aside for this.

  33. Monique says:

    This looks wonderful to serve over the weekend. I will subsitute the smoke bacon with liquid smoke. I do not eat bacon.

  34. Daisy says:

    What? Checking out cookbooks from the library instantly qualifies one as a nerd? Oops. I had no idea. And here I am WEEKLY checking out stacks of cookbooks… what must they think of me. πŸ™‚

  35. Donna Walters says:

    smoked salmon chowder

  36. StephenC says:

    I’ve been inching closer and closer to making some gravlax, and I have a feeling it would be perfect for this soup. Thankyou many times.

  37. Heidi says:

    I knew you lived in WI but had no idea you shopped at Woodmans! My husband grew up in Madison and the man who introduced us still works at the store on the west side. We’re in smoked salmon country (Portland) now, but that store will always have a place in my heart. FYI – If you want to make this dish more local, use smoked trout; pretty easy to come by in your neck of the woods and just as tasty.

  38. Allison says:

    Was it this place? That’s where we always stop for chowder in Seattle. Sooo good! Thanks for this recipe, I have some smoked salmon languishing in the pantry and now I know what to do with it! πŸ™‚

  39. Deb says:

    Oh my hec, I have been waiting for this recipe!!! I’m so glad it’s finally here! I have never made a bread bowl, are they pretty easy? You rock!!!

    On a complete side note, I lived on Vashon Island for almost 8 weeks and the food is amazing out there!!!

  40. garnet says:

    Was it Ivars? That is a Seattle CLASSIC. And it’s right there on the waterfront if you are headed out on a ferry. And their salmon chowder? to.die.for.

    sigh. just thinking about it makes me homesick. You can’t get good stuff like that in Iowa.

  41. Kim in MD says:

    YUM! Can you believe that I have that White Dog Cafe cookbook? I haven’t looked through it in years, and you have reminded me that I need to re-read it! I have never had smoked salmon soup, but it looks and sounds delicious. I would imagine that you could use leftover cooked salmon in the recipe as well.

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