Salmon Chowder – Gluten free, of course

Okay, so photos of chowder are not the easiest. I’m sad to report that this photo does not do justice to the chowder. Because OH MAN. It hit the spot tonight!

I started making salmon and fish chowders a few years ago… and that was after several years of turning my nose up at the thought of fish chowder or fish soups. Quite honestly, the only type of fishy-soup/chowder I liked was Clam Chowder (New England style). And then, a few years ago, I had the best fish soup I had ever eaten in my life in a Chinese restaurant with my in-laws. Sometimes the beauty of not speaking the language is the willingness to eat what you are given. (Don’t worry, my father-in-law always orders gluten-free goodies for me at the Chinese restaurants. It’s helpful to have a native speaker making the requests, that’s for sure!)

Since that meal, I’ve tried to find gluten free fish chowders when we are out and about, but alas… most of them are prepared with a roux (butter and flour) or have flour added at the end to thicken the soup. It was at this point that I caved and decided to make my own. My Love had been telling me how easy chowders are to make, so now was the time.

Tonight I made another version of my Salmon Chowder. My original recipe (from July 2005) used clams and a few slices of ham or bacon and I didn’t have either of those on hand. But tonight, I found a little can of green chiles and some great parsnips in the fridge just waiting to be gobbled up. Couple those goodies with a pound and a half of some incredible fresh salmon and I have been dreaming of Salmon Chowder all day.

There is a brisk snap of cold in the air tonight. It’s actually the kind of weather I enjoy – although truth be told, I like my cold weather WITH sunshine, but that doesn’t happen around here all the time. And tomorrow, the weather reports are predicting a ton of rain and wind (read = 3 inches in 12 hours!). I think soup was the perfect thing to make to get my body ready for the wet chill that is about to set in.

Since this recipe makes MUCH more chowder than the two of us could possibly eat in one meal (or two!), it’s resting nicely in its pot in the fridge for lunch and dinner tomorrow too. I’ll probably make some corn bread or corn sticks or skillet corn bread to accompany it at the last meal. For lunch, I’m thinking some fabulous Caesar Salads with Salmon Chowder. (Yes, there is no school tomorrow in honor of Veteran’s Day in the US… thus my leisurely lunch plans rather than the soup and an apple to go which is what it would have been.)

I’m going to lay out the basic Chowder recipe here. Keep in mind, it’s very, very versatile. If you don’t have salmon on hand, use another firm fish (like cod). Don’t have the same veggies? Mix it up! You get the idea.

Above all, just eat it to feel good. Your body will thank you.

Salmon Chowder
1 tablespoon butter or rice bran oil or olive oil
1 sweet onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 shallot finely chopped (about 2/3 cup)
4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, diced
2 large parsnips, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 small can of green chiles
1 15ounces can of corn (kernels, not creamed)
4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth (GF, of course)
3 cups of diced potatoes
1 1/2 pounds salmon (skinned, de-boned, and cut in to chunks)
salt & pepper, to taste
red pepper flakes (to taste)
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon tarragon
1 can low fat or no fat evaporated milk (optional)
1/4 cup sorghum flour (optional)


  1. Heat large dutch oven/soup pot over medium high. Add butter. Saute onion, garlic, shallot, carrots, parsnips and celery until tender. (About 5-6 minutes).
  2. Add 3 cups of the broth (reserve one cup), green chiles, corn and the potatoes. Simmer until the potatoes are fork tender. (About 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your potato dices.)
  3. Add the seasonings (salt/pepper, paprika, tarragon, red pepper flakes, etc) and taste. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  4. Add the salmon and stir in to the broth. Simmer another 10 minutes or until the salmon is mostly cooked. Taste again. Adjust seasoning.
  5. Mix the sorghum flour in to the remaining one cup of broth. Add to the chowder (this will thicken it a bit.) Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the can of evaporated milk to make the chowder creamy.

Happy soup days, all!


  1. My brother was lucky enough to go on an Alaska fishing trip. I am lucky enough to have some of the rockfish he caught in my freezer. It is firm and buttery. I think it would taste great in your chowder! I have to pass on the corn, but I have some yellow carrots from my garden to fill in the color palette.

    Thanks for the great recipe!

  2. I can only imagine how good this chowder is! At times I crave salmon. Actually one of my favorite chowders is made with tuna. Hubby dislikes salmon and likes tuna, but not in soup. So, I just make smaller portions of these dishes or eat them for several days. 😉 Thanks for this recipe! It’s quite nippy here today, too, so soup sounds very good.

  3. Ah. The picture taking process. Hands still sticky from baking or chopping he garlic. But we need a picture!
    I find “amateur” images very much better than pro shots, it just shows that we are that. Not professionals in photography, but passionate about the food.

    The chowder image made me plan fo soup this weekend!

  4. Thanks for the recipe. I used it as a base following fairly close and swapped veggies for what I had in the fridge that needed to be used up. Kale instead of carrots, bay leaf for tarragon, fresh parsley, green bell peppers and half a tomato. I only had frozen salmon but tasted great. I sauteed shrimp in butter and then tossed it in last with the salmon in the soup pot. I threw in some wild rice leftovers too even with diced potatoes. One note to share, I added two kinds of paprika, a sweet and also a smoked paprika. After sauteeing the onions, celery, kale, bell peppers and garlic in olive oil, I removed the pan from heat and then added the paprika stirring well and bring heat up slowly but not so much to burn the paprika in oil. Then added vegetable broth. Hungarians do it this way and I think the spice blends well and gives a nice color to the saute. The roux is a great touch and a hoppy beer complements this chowder nicely.

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