30 Minute Salmon Chowder
“I have to admit… that doesn’t sound great.” That was Betsy’s first thoughts when I mentioned the idea of a salmon chowder.
I wish I could’ve recorded that and played it back to her as she went for her second bowl.
But, to be honest, it turned out much better than I expected as well. I wanted to try it just because I liked the idea of a chowder on a cold day, but good clams are hard to come by in Colorado (shocker) unless you want to pay for them so I thought a salmon version might be good.
The two keys to really make this chowder work is to 1) not overcook the salmon. Add it at the very end and stir it in gently to soup to keep it in big chunks. It’ll cook through in just a few minutes so keep an eye on it!
The second key is to use jarred clam juice! Sounds weird, but the soup doesn’t really cook long enough to develop much seafood flavor on its own so the bottled clam juice gives it a big hit of flavor with minimal work. The result is a quick and easy 30-minute salmon chowder!
- In a sturdy pot over medium heat, add chopped bacon and water. Water will help fat render out of bacon. Cook until bacon is crispy, 6-7 minutes.
- When bacon is browned, drain off all but about 2 tablespoons of bacon grease and add chopped shallots and celery. Cook for a few minutes and then stir in all-purpose flour.
- After flour, slowly stir in clam juice and milk. Add potatoes and bring to a simmer. Turn heat down to low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 7-8 minutes.
- Prep your salmon by removing any pin bones from the fish and also cutting off skin. Cut salmon into about 1/2-inch chunks.
- When potatoes are cooked through, add corn and salmon to the chowder. Cook for 2-3 minutes until salmon is just cooked through. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Serve chowder immediately with fresh lemon and oyster crackers.
Most chowders start with some pork to add some fat to the soup and bacon is probably the easiest. Just don’t get the thick cut stuff. Thin is better. Chop it up and add it to a sturdy pot with a little water which will help the fat render out.
Cook that for a few minutes until the bacon starts to brown and then add in the celery and shallot. It’ll start smelling good already!
Once the veggies cook down for a few minutes, stir in some flour. You don’t need a lot, but it helps thicken the soup and gives it the traditional chowder consistency.
Now for the clam juice! I’m assuming most people probably don’t have this sitting in their fridge, but you can buy small 8-oz. jars of it near the tuna fish in most grocery stores. You’ll want the whole jar for this soup.
Add that in along with the milk, stirring it in slowly. Then bring the soup to a simmer and add the potatoes. Cube the potatoes pretty small (like 1/4-inch dice) so they cook quickly.
Simmer the soup on low until the potatoes are cooked.
Very last, add in the corn and salmon! You can use any cut of salmon honestly. If your store will give you a deal on salmon collars or scraps they work great in this chowder. Just make sure to remove any bones and cut off any skin.
Once the salmon is stirred in, season the soup with salt and pepper and cook it for just a few minutes until the salmon is flakey and cooked through.
Serve the salmon chowder up with lots of oyster crackers and fresh lemons. It’s a keep of a recipe and will turn even the most skeptical family member into a chowder lover!