Smoked Salmon Chowder {Seattle style}

One of the things I loved about living in Portland, Ore., was how close it was to Seattle. I love, love, love Seattle. I love Pike Place Market. I could walk around it for hours and I have before. One of the things I’ve never tried while in Seattle was Smoked Salmon Chowder. Clam Chowder, yes. But not the smoked salmon variety. Still I found myself drawn to recipes for Seattle-style chowder when I was looking for smoked salmon recipes the other day.

Apparently one of the hallmarks of a Seattle-style smoked salmon chowder is capers. So is cream cheese and tomato paste. As I don’t care for capers, I decided to omit them from my recipe. That’s the thing about making food at home. You can control exactly what goes in it. It’s not like I could go to Pike Place Market and order chowder and ask them to hold the capers. You know what I mean.

The recipe I used was found at All Roads Lead to the Kitchen. You should check out the original copy-cat Seattle-style recipe, especially if you’re looking for a recipe that contains capers. My version is below.


  • 12 oz baby red potatoes, scrubbed
  • ½ c. butter, divided
  • large yellow onion, diced small
  • 2 or 3 stalks celery, diced small
  • 1 T. minced garlic (I used the jarred kind)
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • ¼ c. + 2 T. all-purpose flour
  • 3 c. water
  • 3 T. tomato paste
  • 3 c. half-and-half
  • 4 oz cream cheese, cut into 1″ chunks and softened
  • 1 pound hot-smoked salmon (to be fair, I have no idea if mine was hot smoked or not)
  • hot sauce, to taste
  • salt
  • Bread, hot sauce and black pepper, for serving


  1. Steam the scrubbed potatoes until they are just barely tender.  Set aside until cool enough to handle. When they are cool enough to handle, dice them.
  2. In the meantime, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-low heat in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onions and celery and cook until they are tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and black pepper; cook for 1 more minute.
  3. Add the remaining butter to the pot. Turn heat up to medium. Once it has melted, sprinkle the flour over until it is all incorporated. Let it cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the tomato paste, water, and reserved potatoes to the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.
  5. Stir in the half-and-half, cream cheese, and smoked salmon. Let it heat slowly until it is almost simmering. Taste first, then add salt as needed. If any of your veggies feel a bit too crunchy, continue to cook the soup over low heat. They will soften over time. Just keep checking them. If you like hot sauce, add a bit into your soup. I add Sriracha sauce into mine.
  6. Serve hot with bread, black pepper and hot sauce. Let leftover soup cool down, then refrigerate. To reheat, gently bring it back to just a simmer by cooking it over low heat before serving.

This chowder recipe is amazing. And relatively simple to make too. I happened to have smoked salmon on hand because my friend (who grew up in the Seattle area) was in town and (because she’s awesome) she brought me some salmon that she caught and smoked herself.

If you don’t have a friend who catches and smokes her own salmon, you can find some decent stuff at the grocery store. If you’re near a WinCo, I’ve bought some good versions there. I buy the stuff that looks like normal salmon fillet, not the really thin stuff.

If you’ve never had smoked salmon chowder (and you like smoked salmon and you like chowder) please try this recipe. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Recipe rating: 

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