flaked Alaska salmon

Hearty Seafood Chowder Recipe (with Alaska salmon)

After harvesting my first vegetable garden this fall, I was excited to create a hearty recipe that incorporated as much of my organic produce as possible.

fresh organic vegetables in a pot

Earlier in the year, our family caught, processed and froze a nice amount of Alaska red salmon from the Russian River/Kenai River confluence in Southcentral Alaska. A hearty seafood chowder seemed like the great dish to combine as many local ingredients as possible.

I usually just wing it when I cook, but this time I took notes on how I prepared the chowder (ingredients, quantities, steps) – glad I did, because it turned out great, and now I can share it with you!

Here’s the list of ingredients I used.

Hearty Alaska Seafood Chowder Ingredients:

  • 2 small onions, with green tops (about 1 cup when diced)
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced potatoes
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper
  • 6-ounce salmon filet (baked, de-boned & flaked – I prepped this ahead of time)
  • 1/2 lb small shrimp (de-veined and without tails – I bought them like this)
  • 1 teaspoon diced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 dashes of liquid smoke flavoring (or to taste)
  • 4 cups seafood broth (2 cups for step 1 & 2 cups for step 2)
  • handful of ice cubes
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk (or regular milk – your preference)

Step 1 – Prepping the red pepper blend

Put these ingredients in a medium-sized pot:

  • diced medium sweet red pepper
  • 2 diced small onions, with green tops diced
  • 2 cups seafood broth
  • 1 teaspoon diced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

diced red peppers

Boil (covered) until the onion & red pepper is very, very soft. Once it’s all soft, take it off the heat and toss in that handful of ice cubes so it cools faster.

cooked red peppers with ice

Dump it all into a food processor or a blender, and blend it smooth. This step makes the sweet red pepper flavor permeate well throughout the chowder, plus gives the finished meal that nice light pinkish color that you’d expect in a salmon seafood chowder.

pureed red pepper and onion

After it’s blended smooth, set it aside and move onto Step 2.

Step 2 – Prepping the main chowder pot

Put these ingredients* in a big pot and boil (covered) until the vegetables are cooked to your soup-texture preference. This is the pot where you’ll end up mixing everything together at the end, so makes sure it’s big enough:

  • 2 cups of seafood broth
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced potatoes

* If you like other vegetables in your cream-based chowders, too, now is the time to toss them all in the pot. Make this recipe custom to you. :) Ex. corn or broccoli 

I used blue potatoes, because that’s what I had growing in my garden (variety: “All Blue”). Plus it adds a fun pop of color to the finished chowder.

diced carrots and blue potatoes

As the vegetables are boiling, you can either take this step by step or multi-task, depending on your cooking comfort level. I like to start making my roux (step 3) as soon as I get my main vegetable pot cooking.

Step 3 – Making the roux

When you’re making a thicker soup or chowder that needs flour or cheese to give it some texture, you can’t just dump the flour or cheese straight into the vegetable soup pot (step 2) because it won’t mix. You’ll end up with a lumpy mess.

A “roux” is basically like making a cheese sauce, or in this case, a thick cream sauce, that combines the flour with some fats so that you can mix everything together well, lump-free.

In a small pot,  warm up the 4 Tablespoons of butter over low or medium heat.

Once the butter is totally melted, add the 4 Tablespoons of flour. Mix it together really well – it should be the texture of thick glue.

Right away, add 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, and stir every minute or so. You’ll notice it starting to thicken up after a few minutes. If it’s not getting thicker, turn the heat up a little bit (but you don’t want it boiling or it will burn).

Once it stops getting thicker (probably 10-15 minutes after adding the cream), take it off the heat.

Step 4 – Stir everything together & enjoy!

This is the fun part.

At this point, you’ve got 3 containers plus a few more ingredients you haven’t used yet. Dump everything into the main large chowder pot. Just to give you a checklist here’s everything you’re mixing together:

  • the red pepper/onion pureed mixture (from step 1)
  • the boiled potato/carrot/broth mixture (from step 2)
  • the flour/cream/butter roux mixture (from step 3)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk (or regular milk – your preference)
  • 5 dashes of liquid smoke flavoring (or to taste)
  • 6-ounce salmon filet (baked, de-boned & flaked)
  • 1/2 lb small shrimp (de-veined and without tails)

Turn the heat to medium-low, mixing everything together really well. Give it 10 minutes or so, just so the shrimp and salmon can heat up.

cooked and flaked Alaska salmon

If you prefer thinner chowders, add more milk until it’s the texture you like.

Once it’s all nice & hot, serve & enjoy!

Alaska seafood chowder