A simple recipe for Salmon Chowder using fresh salmon that can be made in about 30 minutes on the stovetop. Fennel bulb gives this a lovely nuanced flavor, while a little smoked paprika adds a subtle smokiness without the addition of bacon. Low carb, Keto and dairy-free adaptable!
- 2–3 tablespoons olive oil (or butter)
- 1 onion, diced (or sub 2 leeks, sliced or 2 fat shallots)
- 1 small fennel bulb, 1 1/2 cups diced
- 1 cup celery, sliced
- 2–4 garlic cloves, rough chopped
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme (dry, or 2 teaspoons fresh)
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/3 cup vermouth, cooking sherry or white wine (or leave it out, see notes)
- 3 cups fish or chicken stock- if using chicken broth see notes, on how to enhance
- 3/4 lb baby potatoes, thinly sliced (1/4 inch thick)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 lb salmon, skinless. (or ok to sub other fish like cod or shrimp), cut into 1 –2 inch pieces
- 2 cups whole milk (or half & half or a combo, or dairy-free milk like coconut milk, or 1/2– 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- Garnish: fennel fronds, lemon wedges, fresh dill or tarragon.
- Heat oil over medium heat, and saute onion, fennel and celery until fragrant, 5-6 minutes. Add garlic, fennel seeds, thyme and saute two more minutes, stirring. Add the smoked paprika.
- Add vermouth, and cook it off, about 1-2 minutes. Add stock, salt, thyme and bay, and bring to a simmer over high heat. Add potatoes and stir. Bring to a simmer, cover and simmer over med-low heat until tender, about 8-10 minutes (check at 7 mins, be careful to not overcook). While this is cooking prep the salmon.
- Cut salmon into 2-inch pieces, removing any of the brown fat ( see notes) and bones. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
- Once the potatoes are just fork-tender, add the milk and bring to a low simmer (do not boil) and add the salmon, gently poaching it in the soup for just about 2 minutes. Turn heat off. Fish will continue to cook. If you continue to simmer the soup any longer it may cause a slight curdling. ( Don’t worry, it’s still edible, but not as pretty.) Flake the fish apart, into bite-sized pieces, with a fork.
- Taste, adjust seasonings to your liking and serve immediately.
- Garnish with fennel fronds, lemon wedges, fresh dill or tarragon.
- Soup will keep 3 days in the fridge.
- If using chicken stock, add 1 teaspoon fish sauce for depth. You can also sub some clam juice for the stock.
- If skipping the vermouth or sherry cooking wine, which FYI does give this a lovely elevated nuanced flavor, add a couple of drops of AC vinegar at the end along with a pinch of sugar. Advanced cooks- you could experiment with Pernod (subbing it for the vermouth, starting with 2-3 tablespoons, making sure to cook this off) which will give it a beautiful anise flavor.
- If you notice grey/brown fat located between the skin and salmon flesh, feel free to remove it -which ultimately will look better in the stew. If using wild salmon, it is ok to eat (healthy, actually) just not quite as “pretty”.
- Keto option: sub potatoes with cauliflower. Use 1 cup of heavy whipping cream.
- Dairy-Free option: add 1 cup of coconut milk, more to taste.
- Want More Smokiness? Try subbing part of the fresh salmon with hot smoked salmon (dont use lox) or feel free to add crumbled, browned bacon (3 slices should do it!)