Make Ahead

Northwest Smoked Salmon Chowder

February 19, 2018
4 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Serves 6 to 8
Author Notes

Clam chowder comes in two varieties: New England and Manhattan. But what about the West Coast? Don't they deserve chowder, too?
Obviously. And it comes in the form of this creamy, tangy, smoky chowder filled with hot smoked salmon, capers, cream cheese, and leeks. Bonus points if you eat it in a sourdough bread bowl. —Catherine Lamb

What You'll Need
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 large leeks, sliced, soaked in water to remove the grit
  • 2 stalks celery, diced fine
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups potatoes, chopped, preferably Idaho or Russet (450g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 15-oz can chopped tomatoes, drained
  • 3 cups fish stock (chicken or veg stock works, too)
  • 3 tablespoons capers, plus 1 tablespoon of brine
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce (I used Texas Pete's)
  • 1 cup hot smoked salmon, shredded
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, diced for garnish
  • lemon wedges, for garnish
  • Sourdough bread bowls for serving, or slices of sourdough bread for dipping
  1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch Oven over medium heat. Add the onions, leeks, celery, salt and pepper and sauté, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until the onions turn translucent.
  2. Add the garlic and potatoes and stir. Add bay leaves and fennel seeds, stir. Add tomato paste and let toast for a minute. Stir in chopped tomatoes, stock, and capers. Let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are cooked all the way through.
  3. Remove the bay leaves and add the cream cheese, let it melt into the soup. Add the half & half and stir it until fully incorporated. When the soup just begins to simmer stir in the smoked salmon and stir until heated through. Add the hot sauce and combine.
  4. Serve chowder in sourdough bowls or with sourdough bread on the side for dipping. Garnish with chopped parsley, lemon wedges, and hot sauce on the side.
  5. Pro tip: Chowder tastes better the next day.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Dana
  • FrugalCat
  • Jerry Reeser
    Jerry Reeser
  • Andrea

6 Reviews

Andrea January 13, 2022
This is one of my go to winter recipes. I love it. The fennel seeds bring in so much flavour. Just brilliant.
57belfairmomma February 5, 2021
This was so delicious. We smoke wild salmon with hickory chips. Just unreal, this is going to replace boring New England Clam chowder for us and our friends!
Steven C. April 29, 2018
This was pretty good, but good smoked salmon was key for me. It's a chowder, so I assumed this would be a lil thicker & creamier. I am cutting back on the leeks for the 2nd go around, but this is an easy meal to make Sunday to start the week off right.
Dana March 15, 2018
I made this recipe tonight and it was sadly a let down. It tasted a lot like Vodka pasta sauce. The amount of amount of cream cheese and half and half compared to broth makes it very thick and hard to enjoy as soup. I ended up adding extra broth and a lot more acid to try and balance the fat. I wish more of the flavors came through in the end.
FrugalCat March 8, 2018
Yes, Old Bay instead of hot sauce. I can't wait to make this. I will be using my fridge cured salmon.
Jerry R. March 8, 2018
I've been making chowder since I moved to the north Puget Sound in '12
I use local little neck clams that i grind, mussels, Dungeness crab, and sometimes oysters. I use milk and flour to thicken, celery, golden potatoes, onions, Old Bay seasoning, bay leaves, Johnnies seasoning salt, pepper. It is very delicious!!