Smoked Salmon Bisque

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

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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

  • Yield: Serves 5-6


  • 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


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

  • Arctic_Lynx

    Every bisque I have ever seen was served cold. That supposedly was part of the difference with a chowder. The other being pureed. So, do bisques get served warm sometimes? That would be an interesting change.

    I’ve only had bisques served hot – crab bisque and lobster bisque. ~Elise

  • John Dole

    I tried this today – wow! it was a big hit. My only complaint was the cost. I looked at two two stores and clam juice was about $2.50 for an 8oz ($10 for the 32oz needed), so with that and the smoke and fresh salmon and the fresh dill and other ingredients this recipe came out to around $30. Was amazing but I would save for a special ocassion. Some alternative to clam juice that was more cost effective would help.

    Very difficult to get the flavor you need for this without the clam juice. You can make your own shellfish stock if you eat a lot of shellfish, and freeze the shells. But that’s a lot of work. Honestly, when it comes to fish soups, I haven’t found an alternative to clam juice that is nearly as good. If anyone reading has some suggestions, I’d love to hear them. ~Elise

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Smoked Salmon Bisque