8 ratings

Creamy Fish Chowder With Bacon, Corn and Spinach

Don't clam up
Fish salmon chowder recipe
Abel Uribe / Chicago Tribune; Mark Graham / food styling

“Chowder” just might be one of the best food words ever. If you’ve been lucky enough to have a bowl of a well-prepared version, you can conjure the chowder memory just by saying the word. My favorite is always creamy and studded with bacon. Sweet corn doesn’t hurt. This version calls for fresh salmon and bay scallops. I add some lump crab when I want to impress. Sharp, tangy, Louisiana-style red-pepper hot sauce adds kick.

The creamy soup base is so good, you could skip the fish and turn it into vegetable chowder simply by doubling the corn and adding some roasted diced red and poblano peppers. For a speedy weeknight chowder, I use canned salmon in place of fresh fish. Better than anything sold at the soup bars at the local grocery stores.

Ready in
1 h 15 m
30 m
(prepare time)
45 m
(cook time)


You can use 1 or 2 cans (14.75 ounces each) wild-caught Alaskan red salmon and some canned crab here in place of the fresh fish for a speedy soup. Pick through the canned salmon to remove any bones or skin. I like a Louisiana-style hot red-pepper sauce with this soup; Sriracha is too sweet.


  • 1 small (3 ounces) leek, split lengthwise, rinsed
  • 2 thick slices bacon, diced (about 2 ounces)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium (6 ounces total) yellow-skin potatoes, diced
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled, diced
  • 1 small serrano pepper, halved, seeded, minced
  • 1 quart (32 ounces) seafood stock or chicken broth
  • 1 Cup water
  • 1 Cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 Cup heavy (whipping) cream
  • Salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 12 Ounces salmon fillet, skinned, cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • 1 Pound bay scallops, rinsed
  • 1 small bunch fresh spinach, stems trimmed, well rinsed, roughly chopped, about 2 to 3 loosely packed cups
  • Chopped fresh chives
  • Hot red-pepper sauce


Step 1: Remove most of the dark green section of the leek and save for other use. Dice the white and light green portion.

Step 2: Put leek, 2 slices diced bacon, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 diced potatoes, diced onion, diced carrot and minced serrano into a large saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat until softened, about 10 minutes. Do not brown.

Step 3: Stir in 1 quart seafood stock and 1 cup water. Heat to a boil; reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, stirring often, 20 minutes. (Base can be made several days in advance; refrigerate covered and reheat before continuing to step 4.)

Step 4: Stir in 1 cup corn and 1 cup cream. Simmer over low heat, 5 minutes. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Stir in 12 ounces salmon and 1 pound bay scallops. Simmer, 2 minutes.

Step 5: Stir in small bunch spinach. Simmer until salmon almost flakes, about 2 more minutes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.

Step 6: Garnish with fresh chives. Serve right away with warm bread or oyster crackers. Pass the hot sauce.