Salmon Chowder

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Comforting and creamy, this Salmon Chowder is simple to make. It’s naturally gluten-free with dairy-free options as well. Studded with lots of salmon and chunks of tender potato this chowder is the definition of cozy. Enjoy it with my Almond Flour Crackers, or a side salad or veggie option listed below.

Salmon chowder in two white bowls with a silver spoon in one bowl of chowder and fennel fronds on the side of the bowls.

It all started with a reader request for Dairy Free Clam Chowder. After some experimentation, I figured out a trick to make a creamy yet dairy-free chowder which has become super popular. From there it’s been a hop skip right on over to another favorite… salmon chowder.

The secret to my chowder recipes is to blend some of the cooked potato with the cream before adding it back to the soup pot. This naturally thickens the chowder and makes it even creamier.

You’ll find two options below for heavy cream or unsweetened coconut cream. I’ve used both options many times and they’re both great. The coconut cream fades into the background, and you’ll be surprised by how ultra-creamy the results are!

A large white pot full of Salmon Chowder with a wooden ladle in the chowder and fennel fronds on the side.

Chowder Secret: I blend a bit of unsweetened coconut cream/heavy cream with some of the cooked potatoes. This creates a ultra creamy dairy free chowder that’s also naturally gluten free!

Ingredients & Substitutions

Cubed salmon, an onion, garlic, potatoes, fennel bulb, celery, corn, broth, cream, thyme, and bacon in small bowls on a wood cutting board.
  • Salmon – wild-caught fresh or frozen salmon tastes the best here. And depending on where you live, frozen might be the freshest option. Better to buy frozen, than ‘not so fresh’ from the cooler section! King salmon, sockeye, or coho are all great options.
  • Bacon – I believe every good chowder starts with sautéed bacon. And I know you’ll love the flavor it adds to the mix here!
  • Onions, garlic, & celery – These 3 make up your chowder soup base and provide a lot of flavor.
  • Fennel – can be left out if you can’t find it, but it really adds a lovely flavor that compliments salmon well. I also like to garnish the finished chowder with the chopped-up fennel fronds for even more flavor.
  • Thyme & bay leaf – A bit of thyme adds a lot here, and if you have fresh use it. The bay leaf is a classic and adds a touch of flavor you don’t want to miss.
  • Chicken stock or broth – or seafood broth if you can get it. But since it’s not readily available unless you make your own, low-sodium chicken broth works great in this chowder.
  • Potatoes – The potatoes do a lot here in this chowder. Of course, there are lots of chunks of potatoes like any good chowder. But they’re also part of the thickener and the creaminess as well when they get blended up.
  • Heavy Cream or Coconut Cream – heavy cream is traditional in a chowder and is so good if you can have dairy. No worries though.. coconut cream works perfectly. You can either refrigerate coconut milk and scoop the cream from the top. Or buy cans of unsweetened coconut cream if you have them available. The coconut cream provides a lot of creaminess in combination with the potatoes. But don’t worry you don’t notice the coconut flavor here. Coconut cream is just 1 ingredient – coconut and shouldn’t be confused with cream of coconut which is a sweetened product for desserts.

How to make this recipe step by step

Cooking the bacon in a large white Dutch oven on the stovetop.

Step 1: Start by cooking the finely diced bacon over medium heat in a large pot, I like to use a large Dutch oven. Cook stirring as needed until the bacon is browned, and the fat renders out.

Chopped celery, fennel, and onion added to the cooking bacon in a large white Dutch oven.

Step 2: Add the chopped veggies to the pan with the bacon and continue to cook over medium or medium-low so the veggies soften without much browning.

Adding the cubed potatoes and broth to the cooked onion bacon mixture in the large white pot.

Step 3: Next add the potatoes, thyme, and broth. Stir to combine and bring the chowder to a boil. Reduce the heat and maintain a simmer until the potatoes are fully tender.

Blending some of the cooked potatoes with cream in a blender container.

Step 4: Scoop some of the cooked potatoes out of the pot and add them to a blender container. Don’t worry if you get some other things along with the potatoes.

Add the cream or coconut cream and blend until mostly smooth with some chunky texture remaining like the above photo.

Adding the cubed salmon to the soup pot.

Step 5: When the potato mixture has been blended, set it aside and add the salmon to the pot. Cook just until the salmon starts to flake on the edges, remember it will continue to cook and you still need to season the soup!

Adding the blended potato mixture to the salmon chowder.

Step 6: Add the corn and blended potato mixture. Stir to combine, and when the salmon is done, season to taste with sea salt and pepper.

Serve immediately.

Finished Salmon Chowder in two white bowls with silver spoons on the side and fennel fronds on the table next to the bowls.

Ways to serve this

FAQ’s

What can I use instead of salmon in this Salmon Chowder?

You can use just about any kind of seafood from any white-fleshed fish cubed up to shrimp or even scallops.

What is the thickening agent for chowder?

My recipe is thickened both with blended potato which makes it creamier and with a cornstarch slurry.

Storing leftovers

  • To store – place any leftover salmon chowder into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Make ahead – I recommend making this chowder up until the step where the potatoes are done, then cool and refrigerate for 1-2 days before finishing the soup. The salmon tends to get overcooked if you make the chowder ahead and then reheat it.
  • Reheating – place any leftovers into a saucepan and heat stirring as needed over medium heat until heated through.
  • To freeze – this chowder freezes ok, but the potatoes will fall apart after they’re thawed. Place any leftovers into an airtight sealed container and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight before reheating. If you freeze your leftovers in a plastic Ziplock, place the frozen bag into a container to catch any leaks as it thaws.
Salmon chowder in two white bowls topped with small sprigs of fennel fronds.

Tips & Tricks

  • Don’t worry about spooning out only potatoes for the blending step. You will end up spooning out some of the onion, fennel, and bacon bits too. But since you’re blending at low speeds, this is no big deal. The potatoes will blend with the coconut cream and the bacon bits stay intact – so no need to worry!
  • It can be tricky to remove salmon skin unless you have a very sharp thin fillet knife. Another trick is to sear the salmon skin side down in an oiled pan for just enough time so you can remove the salmon from the skin easily. Then cut it into bite-sized chunks and add it to the chowder to finish cooking.

Dietary Options & Substitutions

  • Dairy-free – use the unsweetened coconut cream option listed in the recipe. Just be sure to use an unsweetened coconut cream! Unsweetened coconut cream comes in a can just like coconut milk but it’s thicker, richer, and creamier.
  • Paleo – omit the corn kernels and use the unsweetened coconut cream option.
Salmon chowder in two white bowls with silver spoons and fennel fronds on the side of the bowls.

I hope you enjoy this creamy Salmon Chowder! If you do get a chance to make this recipe, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Finished Salmon Chowder in two white bowls with silver spoons on the side and fennel fronds on the table next to the bowls.

Salmon Chowder


5 from 2 votes
Author: Kari Peters
Total Time 45 minutes
Yield: 6
Course: Dinner, Lunch

INGREDIENTS  

  • 4 strips bacon - finely diced
  • 1 cup onion - finely diced, 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 cup celery - finely sliced, 2 stalks
  • 1 clove garlic - minced
  • 1 bulb fennel - bulb finely chopped, and leafy fronds reserved for garnishing
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme - chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 cups Yukon gold potatoes - 1-inch cubes
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth - or seafood stock, see notes
  • 1 cup heavy cream - or unsweetened coconut cream
  • 1 pound fresh salmon - skin removed & cut into 1-1.5-inch pieces
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch - or tapioca starch
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste
  • Fennel fronds, chopped for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS 

  • Start by prepping all the veggies.
  • Place a large pot over medium heat and when the pan is hot add the bacon. Cook until the bacon is browned and the fat has rendered out 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the diced onion, celery, and fennel to the pot and cook for 2-3 minutes before adding the thyme, bay leaf, potatoes, and chicken stock.
  • Bring the chowder to a boil, then reduce the heat to a slow simmer and cook until the potatoes are very tender about 20 minutes.
  • Using a spoon scoop out about 2 cups of cooked potato and add it to a blender container with the heavy cream or coconut cream. Blend until mostly smooth and set aside.
  • Add the cut-up salmon to the simmering chowder and simmer until it's just beginning to flake on the edges, 2-3 minutes.
  • Then add the corn kernels and the blended potato/cream mixture. Stir to combine. To make the chowder thicker, stir the cornstarch together with just enough water to dissolve it. Add it as desired to the chowder stirring to combine until the chowder has thickened.
  • When the salmon is just cooked, season to taste with sea salt and pepper.
  • Garnish with the leftover fennel fronds and serve immediately.
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NOTES

Another broth option is to use 3 cups chicken stock and 1 cup clam juice if you have it on hand for more seafood flavor.
It can be tricky to remove salmon skin unless you have a very sharp thin fillet knife. Another trick is to sear the salmon skin side down in an oiled pan for just enough time so you can remove the salmon from the skin easily. Then cut it into bite-sized chunks and add it to the chowder to finish cooking.
Category: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Amercian
Keywords: Dairy Free Salmon Chowder, Fresh Salmon Chowder Recipe, Recipe for Salmon Chowder, Salmon and Corn Chowder, Salmon Chowder Dairy Free, Salmon Chowder Easy, Salmon Chowder Recipe, Salmon Corn Chowder
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