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Smoked Salmon Chowder Recipe

This Old Bay seasoned smoked salmon chowder recipe is hearty and creamy and totally sublime.

Smoked Salmon Chowder Recipe

When Manservant came home with 2 packages of smoked salmon (because they were on sale) I knew I needed to make this great smoked salmon chowder recipe.

After all, it was a major blizzard outside and we eventually ended up with 28″  of snow on our deck.  Luckily we have a snow blower, but it still took some time to get things cleared off.

He came in soaked and I knew that this salmon chowder would hit the spot.

Rich, but not over the top, mainly because I used 1/2 and 1/2 and not all heavy cream, this well seasoned chowder was a hearty dinner.

Smoked Salmon Chowder in white bowl

How does chowder differ from soup?

Soup is generally much thinner than chowder. Chowder most likely has some kind of thickener, milk or cream and often potatoes.

Why potatoes? Potatoes are used in this case as a thickener because they are starchy, so no flour needed.

There are exceptions to every rule though, so beware of Manhattan clam chowder that seems to ignore the rules of chowder-dom.

Smoked Salmon Chowder with Spoon on green place mat

Does this salmon chowder recipe contain seafood too?

Most chowders do, but there are corn chowders, such as this one, that I made awhile ago that is best made with fish or shrimp. Otherwise there would be a lot going on!

However most chowders can be made with a variety of fish and shell fish. Feel free to experiment with this recipe and use it as a base for your own creation.

Many chowders also begin with bacon, but this salmon chowder recipe has butter as its base. Another reason it is so comfortingly rich. 

I also think that because we are talking about smoked salmon in this chowder recipe, there is no need for the extra smokiness that would come from bacon.

Smoked Salmon Chowder

Is there a substitute for fish stock?

Often when I find myself needing fish stock I substitute chicken broth. Or veggie broth. But short of making your own fish stock, I find myself buying clam juice in the tuna fish aisle of the grocery. It is a great substitute.

Now if you are using some shrimp in this chowder, which is perfectly acceptable by the way, just save the shrimp shells, put them in a pot, cover them with water, place on a burner, bring to a boil and when they turn pink remove from heat.

(That was a long sentence!)

You have just now created your very own simple “fish” stock. Yes this can also be done with fish trimmings, lobster shells, mussels, and clams, too.

Smoked Salmon Chowder

What is the difference between hot smoked salmon and cold smoked salmon?

Well, the name kind of gives it away! But hot smoked salmon, which is what is used in this recipe, is much flakier and also has more of a smoky taste.

Cold smoked salmon, such as lox, has a smooth and silky texture. It is great stirred into scrambled eggs or on a bagel, but I much prefer the hot smoked salmon in this recipe.

So besides the smoked salmon what makes this chowder so good?

This chowder is highly seasoned and that’s how I like it. Lots of garlic, celery and onion contribute to its flavor profile.

Using a touch of fennel seed, bay leaves, basil  and lots of Old Bay seasoning marks this chowder as one of my top rated salmon recipes!


Not familiar with Old Bay? You should be. Made with celery salt, paprika, pepper and  dry mustard it has a good kick. There are lots of make your own  Old Bay seasoning recipes on Google if you can’t find the real thing.

Smoked Salmon Chowder with Spoon on green place mat

What else makes this chowder so worth it?

Besides the cream or milk or half and half, yes each can be substituted interchangeably, there is a bit of cream cheese in this. Not too much. Not too little. Just right!

Now I’m not wishing anyone a snow day, but with or without one, this smoked salmon chowder is divine. In fact there was enough leftover that I’m serving it to Manservant again tonight. I don’t think he will be unhappy.

What are you waiting for? Please give it a try!

Need a Few More?

Easy Gravlax Salmon

gravlax salmon

Overnight Lox and Bagels Casserole

Overnight breakfast casserole with lox and bagels

Everything But The Bagel Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon

Everything But The Bagel Scrambled Eggs

Old Bay Potato Salad

Old Bay potato salad

I’d Love it If  You’d Follow Me on Pinterest and Pin and Share!


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Smoked Salmon Chowder

Smoked Salmon Chowder Recipe

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 4 reviews
  • Author: Abbe Odenwalder
  • Prep Time: 20 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 Minutes approx
  • Total Time: 45 Minutes
  • Yield: 4 - 6 Servings 1x
  • Category: Soups/Main Course
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American


This mildly rich smoked salmon chowder is seasoned well with Old Bay and really hits the spot on a chilly day.



3 T butter

1 large onion, diced

2 stalks of celery, diced

6 minced cloves of garlic

1 1b of potatoes, diced and no need to peel

1/2 t crushed fennel seeds

2 bay leaves

1 t dried basil

1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, drained

3 c fish stock (or substitute chicken, veggie, shrimp or clam juice)

2 T capers and 2 T brine

2 T tomato paste

4 oz cream cheese at room temperature

4 t Old Bay seasoning

1 c heavy cream, milk or half and half or a combination

8 oz hot smoked salmon, skin removed, flaked into large pieces

8 oz small shrimp, mussels or clams (optional)


Heat the butter in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onions and celery and cook until soft and translucent, about 6 – 8 minutes.

Add the garlic, potatoes , crushed fennel seeds, bay leaves, dried basil, diced tomatoes 3 c of stock, caper and brine. Bring the soup to a rolling simmer, cover, reduce to medium low, and cook for 8 – 15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked to your liking.

When the potatoes are tender, remove the lid, and stir in the tomato paste, cream cheese and Old Bay seasoning. I used a whisk to stir in the cream cheese until there were no lumps.

While simmering add the cream or milk and reduce heat to low, allowing the chowder to warm up.

Right before serving stir in the salmon and shrimp or shell fish if using. Let that simmer a few minutes and serve.


*If chowder becomes too thick, stir in some milk or stock to thin it as you choose. I prefer it not too thick and not too thin!

Thanks Little Spice Jar!






Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

Chef Mimi

Thursday 18th of March 2021

WOW! I mean, this is outstanding. LOVE LOVE LOVE it My husband wouldn’t eat it but my girlfriend who visits will! Thanks!


Thursday 18th of March 2021

Thanks Mimi! Lucky girlfriend!


Thursday 18th of March 2021

Absolutely great comforting lunch since the winter still rocks over here as well !


Thursday 18th of March 2021

I can't remember if the groundhog saw his shadow! Thanks!


Wednesday 17th of March 2021

i love salmon and i love a good soup. this looks delicious. we don't have old bay seasoning here but i'm sure i could put something similar together:)


Thursday 18th of March 2021

You could and you should! Thanks Sherry!

Healthy World Cuisine

Wednesday 17th of March 2021

That is one delicious bowl of salmon chowder. So creamy and delicious. We are huge salmon lovers.


Thursday 18th of March 2021

You will love it! Thanks Bobbi!

Bobbi | Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen

Wednesday 17th of March 2021

Oh yes! This chowder is right up my alley!! Sounds amazing!