Smoked Salmon Bisque

Hot-smoked salmon has a much stronger smoky flavor than cold-smoked salmon, so I recommend using hot-smoked salmon for this recipe.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • 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
  • 1 quart (32 oz) clam juice
  • 3/4 pounds salmon fillet, chopped 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 to 4 ounces hot smoked salmon (depending on how strong a smoked flavor you want, and how strongly smoked the salmon is), chopped
  • 2 cups canned whole or stewed tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • Pinch black pepper
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • Salt to taste


1 Cook onions, leeks, mushrooms garlic in butter: 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 Make a slurry with flour, milk, cream: Put flour into a separate bowl. Slowly add the milk, beating with a wire whisk until smooth. Mix in the cream. Stir cream flour slurry into the soup.

4  Stir in fresh salmon and simmer for 5 more minutes.

5 Purée (optional): 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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    When you talk about smoked salmon in the recipe , are you using hot smoked or cold smoked salmon, as they are both quite different?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Stewart, great question! When cooking with smoked salmon I typically use hot smoked salmon because it’s sturdier and has a stronger smoked flavor than cold smoked salmon. You could use either in this soup, though hot smoked salmon is probably the better choice. I’ve updated the ingredient list to reflect that. Thank you!

  • 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.

  • Don'Avonne

    I have to say.. I truly love this recipe.. It’s pretty easy to make.. though the shopping was a bit pricey with the smoked salmon and the fresh salmon but in the end it was all completely worth it. I’ve been so excited about the final flavors that I’ve been telling all of my friends about it. and now I have a special recipe to cook for special guest.. thank you.


  • Amy

    LOVE IT! Even my picky husband found this to be delicious!


  • Just a Plane Ride Away

    WOW–I just made this. Actually I made this yesterday for a birthday lunch today. It was SO good and very impressive :-) Mmmmmmmm. I couldn’t find clam juice (I live in England) so I substituted fish stock. It still was amazing. Many thanks to your Dad, Elise!


  • 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

    • John

      I too live in Salmon country (Alaska) and absolutely understand the immediate need for conservation in light of our three recent harvest seasons.
      I also realize that this is a blog relating to cooking and is not the place for your comment.
      I have never read, or heard of politics dictating how we cook food.
      Try a conservation blog..
      This recipe is amazing and in fact, I am cooking this tonight.

  • 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

  • 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

    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

  • tiffany peek

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