Smoked Salmon Chowder

Tammy | Chez Nous
by Tammy | Chez Nous
4-6 Servings
1 hr 15 min

There's pretty much nothing more "northwest" than salmon. Or mussels. Or clams. So why not combine them into one chowder … Smoked Salmon Chowder with Mussels and Clams!? Oh yes!

Although, if you don't live in the Northwest, you can still enjoy this soup! If smoked salmon is hard to come buy, try any other smoked fish … like smoked trout.

The first step to make Smoked Salmon Chowder is to cook the mussels and clams. The brilliant thing is that while you're doing that, you're also making the stock for the chowder. Killin' two birds!

Those mussels, though … they need some help before cooking them. Can you see all those straggly beard hairs? They need to go! I use my fish tweezers to grab them because my fingers just don't do the job. You want to grab tight and pull them off. You can also scrape at the barnacles if you want, but they don't bother me much.

Rinse the clams really well. Sand tends to collect, but there's not really a lot to clean on them besides the sand.

I give the above instruction knowing that I buy clams from a very clean fishmonger! If you dig them on the beach, your procedure for cleaning will be a bit different. Just do an internet search to learn more.

Onion and garlic is a great start to anything. Especially clams and mussels!

We want the onion and garlic to cook slowly over medium heat so that there's no browning.

Then salt, pepper, and parsley are added in just before the wine. Let the wine cook for a bit to reduce, then add fresh water.

After the mussels and clams open up in the pot, they are strained. That mussel-clam stock is golden! Reserve both the broth and the shellfish.

Once the mussels and clams have cooled so that you can handle them, remove the meat from the shells, then put some broth on it to keep it from drying out.

Now … let's make the chowder part of the Smoked Salmon Chowder!

The base is onion, garlic, leeks, celery, and parsley. It's all cooked till soft, then the potatoes are added.

While the potatoes cook, it's a good time to make the béchamel sauce. This is a fancy name for mixing butter and flour in a small saucepan, then whisking in milk and cream till it all gets thick.

Substitutions are allowed!

I use a gluten-free 1:1 flour blend instead of all-purpose flour because of wheat sensitivities. And if you are sensitive to dairy, I recommend using cashew milk in place of the cream and milk. (Instructions for making cashew milk are in the notes section of the recipe card.)

As soon as the potatoes are barely soft, the béchamel is added to the pot along with the reserved broth.

Finally, the shellfish and smoked salmon is added and allowed to warm through.

Serve it piping hot with some smoked salmon and dill sprigs as garnish. And some crusty bread, too!

Recipe details
  • 4-6  Servings
  • Prep time: 30 Minutes Cook time: 45 Minutes Total time: 1 hr 15 min
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For the Broth
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 pound littleneck clams scrubbed
  • 1 pound mussels scrubbed and debearded
For the Chowder
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 1/2 medium onion chopped
  • 2 small leeks (white and pale green parts only) quartered lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 3 celery stalks chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Yukon Gold potatoes chopped
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour or 1:1 Gluten Free Blend
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 ounces skinless, boneless, smoked salmon flaked
  • dill sprigs for garnish
For the Broth
The broth can be made ahead, covered, and chilled. Put some of the broth on the shellfish to keep them from drying out.
Heat butter and oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6-8 minutes.
Stir in the parsley; season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer about 4 minutes.
Add clams, mussels, and 4 cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the shellfish open, 7-9 minutes. Strain stock through a large fine-mesh sieve into a large measuring cup or bowl. Discard any mussels or clams that do not open.
Let the shellfish cool so you can handle them. Remove the meat from the shellfish, cover with some broth and set aside.
For the Chowder
Heat 3 Tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion, leeks, celery, garlic, and parsley; season with salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables are sort, but have taken on no color, 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally and reducing heat if needed to keep them from browning.
Add potatoes and cook for 10-15 minutes more until the potatoes just begin to soften.
Just before the vegetables are done, melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking often, until the roux just begins to smell nutty, about 2 minutes. Add the cream and milk, whisking until smooth. Bring to a simmer and cook until the bechamel is just thickening, about 1 minute.
Add bechamel along with reserved broth to the vegetables. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Coarsely chop half of the shellfish meat and add it to the chowder along with the remaining shellfish meat. Stir in half of the smoked salmon and cook until it has warmed through, about 1 minute.
Serve the chowder with the remaining smoked salmon, a bit of dill, and a few grinds of pepper.
  • Alterations you can make:
  • Use gluten free 1:1 flour blend to make this gluten-free.
  • Substitute any other smoked fish if salmon isn't your thing. Smoked trout? Yup. Delicious.
  • Use cashew milk to make it dairy-free. To make cashew milk: blend 1 cup of soaked cashews with 2 ½ cups of water in a high-powered blender. In a pinch for time, you can make the cream without soaking the cashews, but the cream will potentially not be as smooth as if you had soaked them for at least an hour. You can soak them overnight as well. Cashew cream can be sweetened with the addition of a date, but when I’m using it for a savory recipe, I leave it unseasoned so that the flavors of the dish aren’t compromised.
Tammy | Chez Nous
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