Someone sent me two cans of smoked fish some time last year. I don’t remember who or why, but every time I opened the cupboard they stared out at me. Yesterday I thought to look at the expiration date and sure enough, one of them expired this week. My hubby would not hear of me tossing it out, so he decided he was going to make soup with them. His idea of making soup is to take the first can of prepared soup in the cupboard. It doesn’t matter to him if it’s chicken and rice or tomato soup. He planned on tossing in these two cans of very good quality smoked halibut and smoked salmon into the can of soup and having it for dinner.

It didn’t surprise me. While I’m the person whose food rarely touches, he’s the guy that gleefully mixes up his meal and says, “It all goes to the same place!” My reply is always the same, “I prefer to enjoy mine individually before they’re mixed.”  Then once dinner is done, and I start pulling out individual containers to store all the leftovers, he’ll say, “Here, I’ll take care of this!” That means he’s about to dump all of the leftovers into one big bowl and call it lunch for tomorrow. I hate to imagine what the guys at the station think I cook for him at home since all they ever see are his bowls full of dinner remnants all stirred together and usually topped with ranch dressing.

Smoked Salmon Chowder with Halibut

I said no to his plan and decided it was time to make a smoked fish chowder out of them since a few weeks ago I cheated and bought salmon chowder for him instead of making it. It was much more expensive than homemade, and my husband said mine tastes better (we’ve been married for 32 years, he knows better to choose the one from the nationally recognized fish restaurant :)). But he said it truly was better, so I pulled out my old recipe and made it for him, but this time with two kinds of smoked fish since that’s what we had on hand. He said he liked the combination of the two fish and that it gave it even more interest so from now on I’ll always include two varieties of fish.

Smoked Salmon Chowder with Halibut Recipe

Red potatoes, celery, potatoes, and two kinds of smoked fish makes this a hearty chowder!

I’ve never tasted this soup because it’s made with chicken stock and fish, but I have to assume he’s telling the truth when he says it’s good. I suppose it can’t go wrong since it’s such a basic recipe and the way most chowders start out. I’m going to be making vegetarian potato chowder for myself tomorrow – I’ve forgotten how much I love it. I’ll make mine a little thicker by processing about half of the soup in a blender and then stirring it back into the unprocessed soup so I can freeze some of it. Blending half of the chowder before freezing gives you a better product when reheating. If you want to do the same for this smoked fish chowder, do it before you stir in the cream, dill, and salmon.

There’s no salt in this recipe on purpose. There’s plenty available in the smoked fish and the low-sodium broth. There are a  lot of potatoes to help counter the salt in the fish and half-n-half instead of a heavier cream to help balance it all out.

Quick and Easy Smoked Salmon Chowder with Halibut
Makes 4 generous 2-cup servings or 8 1-cup side soups
Yield: 4
Prep Time: 
Cooking Time: 
Total Time: 
  • 3 tbl butter
  • 1 med onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 3 Tbl flour
  • 3 cups low- or no-salt chicken or fish stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 lb baby red potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces (about ¼ - ½")
  • 2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 6-1/2 oz canned smoked halibut, drained and lightly broken up
  • 6-1/2 oz  smoked salmon, drained and lightly broken up
  • 1 cup half-n-half
  • 1 Tbls fresh dill, chopped
  1. In a medium soup pot over medium heat melt the butter. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle the flour over the onion and garlic and stir - cook for 2 minutes stirring constantly.
  3. Slowly add the stock continuing to stir constantly. Raise the heat to med-high or high to bring the mixture to a boil. Once you reach a boil, add the bay leaf, potatoes, and carrots and then lower the heat to low to simmer.
  4. Cover and cook until the potatoes and carrots are tender, about 7-10 minutes depending on the size of your veggies.
  5. Gently stir in the smoked fish, half-n-half, and dill and simmer for 3-4 more minute or until they’re heated through. Remove the bay leaf and season with pepper.
  6. Serve immediately
Serving Size: 2 cups

What’s your go-to smoked fish or smoked salmon chowder recipe? Is it fancy or simple like this one?

Also, check out this Heart-Shaped Blini with Smoked Salmon and Lemon Caper Sour Cream recipe