Smoked Salmon Bisque

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Delicious smoked salmon bisque, made with fresh salmon, smoked salmon, onions, leeks, mushrooms, garlic, clam juice, tomatoes, cream, herbs and seasonings.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

A little trivia here. What makes a bisque a bisque and not a chowder? Both bisques and chowders are made with seafood and vegetables, with a cream base.

Chowders tend to be more stew-like or chunky, and bisques puréed. Bisques are traditionally made with shellfish, though these days a puréed tomato, cream-based soup can be called a bisque too.

We half-puréed this smoked salmon bisque, which accounts for the photograph. My father made this delicious soup the other day after being inspired by a bisque we had at a local bistro and wine bar. So creamy and good.

Smoked Salmon Bisque Recipe

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  • Yield: Serves 5-6

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1 cups thinly sliced leeks
  • 1/2 chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart (32 oz) clam juice
  • 3/4 pounds salmon fillet, chopped 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 to 4 ounces smoked salmon (depending on how strong a smoked flavor you want, and how strongly smoked the salmon is), chopped
  • 2 cups canned or stewed tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • Pinch black pepper
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Method

1 Melt butter in a medium stockpot over medium heat. Add onion, leeks, mushrooms, garlic and cook until onions are translucent and mushrooms have given up their moisture (7 to 10 minutes).

2 Add the clam juice, smoked salmon, tomatoes (break up tomatoes while putting them in the soup), parsley, cilantro, dill, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and Old Bay seasoning; cook until heated through.

3 Put flour into a separate bowl. Slowly add the milk, beating with a wire whisk until smooth. Mix in the cream. Stir cream flour mixture into the soup. Stir in fresh salmon and simmer for 5 more minutes. If you want, use an immersion blender to purée the soup, or pour some or all of the soup into a standing blender and purée. Salt to taste.

Garnish with fresh dill.

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Showing 4 of 10 Comments

  • Colin Nash

    In my experiences (professionally cooking in seafood restaurants on both coast) bisques are creamy smooth soups that are thickened with rice and/or ground shellfish shells. Chowder is a creamy stew that is thickened with a roux or corn starch slurry.
    And on the price of clams and clam juice, shop at a restaurant supply store. You can get a ten can of both clams and their juice for around 10 bucks. You won’t need all of them, but mix the remainder and freeze for your next use.

  • Tracy

    Better than Boullion makes a clam base that is pretty good. It makes soups like this more cost effective and easy to keep the ingredients on hand.

  • Stephen M. Garber

    I truly enjoy your blog and all the recipes. As a resident of salmon country, and a lover of salmon dishes for years, I do wonder why you, who also loves salmon, don’t seem to recognize, as the government has, that we have to give them a rest. They have been way overfished and need to make a comeback. I look forward to the day, when in good conscience I can again eat salmon. But that is not today.

    Hi Stephen – I think it sort of depends on where the salmon you’re cooking is caught. I do believe it is a good idea to keep informed about where your fish is coming from, and if those sources are problematic. A great way to do this is by checking the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch site. ~Elise

  • tiffany peek

    This needs a splash of Sherry to give it that true bisque flavor

  • John

    This sounds awesome. Any ideas for a possible clam juice substitute? I have a shellfish allergy.

    Although clam juice really is the best, I have made soups that call for it for my friends with shellfish allergies with fish stock and dry white wine. ~Elise

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Smoked Salmon Bisque