Salmon Chowder

January 23, 2012

A few weeks ago I made Chris Kimball’s Supermarket Cod Chowder. It was well-balanced, but lack the bold flavor that I bought from a restaurant during my recent trip to Seattle. So today I made the recipe again, but replace the cod with Salmon. I took some additional steps to boost the flavor too; replacing the plain water with home-made fish stock that I made from the head, trimmings and bones of the fish. Also, instead of butter I sauted the onions of bacon fat, and sprinkled the crumbled bacon on top of the finished soup. The result was fabulous; 4-1/2 stars.

Salmon more flavorful; I wish I had more bacon


  1. If you are only interested in using the filet; the $4/lb whole salmon yields the identical cost of $7/lb for filet. The remaining $3/lb is the head, tail, bones and other non-extractable meat. In this case, it didn’t go to waste as I used it to make my own fish stock.
  2. To make my homemade fish stock I used 8 cups of water, but very little boiled away. Next time I will use no more than 5 or 6 cups to concentrate the flavor even more.
  3. After some research and wondering if Ivar’s used red food coloring to make the chowder pink, I realized they must add paprika. Next time I will add a teaspoon of paprika.

Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
Cost: $16.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low.
Start time 4:00 PM. Finish time 6:30 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepared this today are given below:

6 slices Bacon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or bacon fat
2 onions (about 1-1/4 lbs)
4-oz salt pork
1-1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
5 cups fish or chicken stock
2 pounds salmon fillets
1-1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch

  1. Cook 6 slices of bacon in a 12″ skillet until crisp, reserving 2 tablespoons of bacon fat for sauteing the onions, and patting the bacon slices with paper towels so that they retain their crispness. Because I snacked on the bacon slices I only ended up with 3 slices. I should have cooked more.
  2. To remove the skin, lay the salmon fillet flat on cutting board, skin-side-down and use a boning or chef’s knife to peel the skin away from the fillet.
  3. If you can buy a whole salmon, use the head, bones and other trimmings to make fish stock. Mix in 6 cups of water and allow to simmer with potatoes, onions, smashed garlic for 1 hour.
  4. To make the chowder, cut the onions into a large 1/2″ dice. Mince your fresh thyme. Remove the rind from salt pork, cut the remaining pork into two pieces and rinse under cold water to remove the excess surface salt.
  5. Melt 2 tablespoons of bacon fat or butter in a large Dutch oven set over medium burner. Add minced onions, salt pork, minced thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 bay leaf. Saute for 4 minutes until the onions become softened, but have not browned.
  6. Add 5 cups of fish stock (supplementing with cold water, if necessary) and bring up to a simmer.  Meanwhile peel and cut your potatoes into 1/2″ dice. Also slice your fish fillet into 6 equal sized pieces.
  7. After reaching a simmer, remove from heat and put your fish fillets into water. Cover and allow to stand for 5 minutes. The fish will be nearly cooked and just barely opaque. Use a metal spatula to carefully remove from pot and place in a medium bowl.
  8. Return Dutch oven to medium-high burner, adding diced potatoes. Bring back up to a simmer, and cook uncovered for about 30 to 40 minutes until the potatoes are tender and begin to break apart.
  9. While the potatoes are cooking, whisk together 2 cups milk, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1 teaspoon pepper and 1 teaspoon paprika in small bowl. When potatoes are tender stir in the milk mixture and bring back up to a simmer.
  10. Finally, add back the mostly-cooked-fish and accumulated juices into pot. Remove from heat, cover, and allow to stand for 5 more minutes.
  11. Remove the salt pork and bay leaf; discard. Stir chowder gently to break fish up into large pieces. Season with additional salt and pepper according to your taste. Serve immediately, garnishing with minced chives, crumbled bacon bits, or oyster crackers (Krispy is the preferred brand).

About 2 feet long, weighing almost 6 pounds


%d bloggers like this: