Salmon Dill Chowder is designed for quick assembly and immediate consumption; it begs to be eaten fresh and savored with a slice of good sourdough bread.
Creamy broth, wild salmon, smoky bacon, herbaceous fresh dill, and hearty potatoes deliver a nourishing bowl of real food comfort.
Salmon Dill Chowder combines the richness of salmon with the heartiness of potatoes in a creamy broth, creating a symphony of flavors that tantalize the taste buds and warm the soul.
The beauty of salmon chowder lies in its simplicity. The bacon, potatoes, and salmon make it hearty enough to satisfy on a cold winter night, while the fresh dill carries a citrusy, grassy levity to every bite.
Choosing the Best Salmon for Chowder
In a perfect world, everyone would have access to affordable, sustainable, wild-caught fish. The general assumption is that when buying any kind of fish, it is best to go wild. That assumption remains true.
Wild-caught salmon for the best taste and nutritional value
Superior in taste, a diversified diet, a free-roaming fish with no antibiotics, and rich in minerals and vitamins, wild-caught salmon is an exceptional quality protein. It is rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids, lower in calories, and higher in vitamins and minerals like potassium, zinc, and calcium.
Money-Saving TIP: Off-set the cost of wild salmon by reducing portion size (we can all eat a little less here in the U.S., right?), look for seasonal sales (summer is best), buy at bulk stores like Costco, or call a local grocer to ask about seafood trimmings (the scraps from fish, trimmed for the display case).
Buying Farm-Raised Salmon
Overfishing and habitat loss have led to a decrease in consistent wild salmon populations. This has inspired the fishing industry, alongside scientists and environmentalists, to develop fishing practices to support and supplement the wild-caught fishing supply.
We now have access to a consistent year-round supply of all kinds of fish, but not all farmed fish are equal. It is worth checking the source of farmed fish to know whether they treat the fish with antibiotics (overcrowding is common) and what they are fed (a natural diet vs. by-products).
My go-to source for farmed salmon is Whole Foods because of their extremely high seafood standards. Their fish are never fed antibiotics or by-products, are highly traceable, and sustainably sourced. In fact, all of their seafood products have a high rating for sustainability and natural practice, and they also offer wild-caught salmon consistently.
What about canned salmon?
Canned salmon is definitely an economical choice for making chowder; however, the texture and sodium content are different. Fresh salmon does not have added salt, but often canned salmon does, so adjust the seasoning accordingly.
Canned salmon is already cooked, so there is no need to pan-sear it; however, it will also have a different (stronger) flavor and finer texture than fresh salmon.
PRO TIP: Cooking the salmon separately with the seasoning allows that flavor to bond to the salmon and creates a more nuanced depth of flavor. The blackening seasoning has a savory, smoky, spicy Cajun influence and melds well with the other flavors in the chowder. Searing the salmon also helps maintain bigger bites of the salmon, bonding the proteins together instead of breaking down into the chowder.
Recipe Step by Step
- Prep vegetables and bacon.
- Brown bacon in a large soup pot. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan.
- Season and sear salmon.
- Saute vegetables to soften and add chicken stock; simmer 10 minutes.
- Add milk and simmer 8 minutes to finish cooking vegetables.
- Stir in salmon, half the bacon, and dill; simmer 2 minutes.
- Spoon into bowls and garnish with the remaining bacon.
Can I use white fish for chowder?
Yes, but salmon specifically has a heartier flavor and texture; to use a different fish would be to make a different chowder. We have an awesome Seafood Chowder using white fish, shrimp, and clams.
Can I use other vegetables?
You can use parsnips, celeriac root, or sweet potatoes as a substitute for the potatoes. Mild-flavored vegetables like cauliflower, zucchini, or carrots work well too—just use the same amount as the potatoes in the recipe.
Is fresh or dried dill weed better?
Fresh dill is the best for salmon chowder because the flavor is mild and fresh-tasting. Dried dill has a stronger flavor and it tastes more earthy. If you cannot find it fresh, use dry dill, but decrease the amount. Instead of 2 tablespoons of fresh dill, we recommend 1-2 tsp of dried dill, as it has a more concentrated flavor.
Recipe Tips and Variations
- Parsnips, celeriac root, or sweet potato is an excellent potato substitute.
- To thin the soup, add equal amounts of chicken stock and milk or cream.
- For thicker chowder, take 1-2 cups of the soup and blend it up to a puree, then add it back to the soup. This will create a thicker consistency without adding flour or cornstarch as a thickener.
- Freeze leftovers for up to 3 months—Defrost and reheat in a saucepan over medium-low heat for best results.
More Seafood Recipes You’ll Love:
- Red Curry Coconut Shrimp Stew
- Skillet Blackened Salmon with Spinach and Garlic
- Crispy Pan-Fried Fish Tacos with Street Corn Sauce
- How to Make an Amazing Crab Leg Dinner
- Barramundi in Brown Butter Sauce with Almonds
- Cajun Shrimp Stew with Potatoes
- Spaghetti Al Farouk
Salmon Dill Chowder
- 1 pound wild salmon fillet
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 tablespoon Paul Prudhomme Blackened Redfish Magic , or other favorite Cajun seasoning
- 6 slices bacon , cut across the slices into 1/4″ strips
- 3/4 cup chopped onion , about 1/2 large onion
- 2 cloves minced garlic , or 2 teaspoon jarred garlic
- 3 ribs celery , diced, about 1 1/2 cup
- 4 medium red potatoes , washed, unpeeled, cut into 1/4″ cubes, about 4 cups
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill fronds chopped, or 1-2 teaspoons dried dill, added 1 teaspoon at a time, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper or ground black pepper
- Prep the vegetables and bacon for the soup.
- In a large soup pot, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring frequently, until browned and crisp (about 5 minutes); transfer to paper towels to drain.
- Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan, reserving it in a ramekin for later use if needed. Sprinkle the salmon with seasoning and place the salmon in the pot. Brush the other side of the salmon with some of the bacon fat and sprinkle with blackened seasoning. Cook on each side for 3-4 minutes, then transfer to a platter and set aside.
- Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons fat from pan (if needed) and add the onion. Cook onion over medium heat until just beginning to brown at the edges, 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic, celery, and potatoes, and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften. (Add a little bacon fat if pan seems too dry.)
- Stir-in stock (more can be added so the vegetables are covered in stock) and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until potatoes are almost tender, about 10 minutes. Add milk, bring the soup back to a simmer, cover and cook until potatoes are tender, about 8 minutes.
- Break up salmon into bite-size pieces and add to the soup with any accumulated juices from the plate. Add half the bacon, dill, pepper, remaining melted butter, and simmer gently 3-4 minutes to meld flavors. Adjust dill, salt, and pepper, to taste.
- Ladle into warmed bowls, garnish with remaining bacon, and serve.