This dairy-free salmon chowder tastes even better than the real thing.
I grew up eating seafood at a tiny restaurant in Saratoga Springs, NY – The Weathervane. It was always a treat when my parents packed all six of us into our brown-paneled station wagon to take us there. This is where I discovered my infatuation for fish chowder.
When I was 19, I spent the summer with friends in Giants Neck, CT and stayed at a home located on the Long Island Sound. We were just minutes from an old marina that had the best restaurant. A tiny hole-in-the-wall filled with fishermen who provided them with fresh fish, lobster, crabs and more. The food was OUT OF THIS WORLD. I’d spoil myself with their famous lobster pot pie and the best chowder I have ever had in my entire life…until now. 😉 And, as you know, I’ve realized the people who know how to prepare fish best are the ones who actually catch them. Check out my dad’s salmon recipe here.
I had two things in mind when creating this dish. I needed a substitute for the cream and butter often found in traditional fish chowders. I also needed to replace the potatoes with sweet potatoes while not diminishing the quality of the chowder.
What to use in place of butter and heavy cream:
I decided to soak cashews in a cup of water for 30 minutes and put them into a blender until the mixture was smooth. This added the creamy texture that I loved so much in chowder while adding flavor.
What kind of fish can you use in this fish chowder?
I loved the taste of wild-caught salmon in this chowder but you can add meaty firm types of fish such as snapper, barramundi, tilapia and cod. Small-sized shrimp would also go well in this soup.
Dairy-Free Salmon Chowder
- 2 cups chopped/cubed wild-caught salmon (uncooked)
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 cup hot water
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or chopped
- 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
- 2 cups carrots, chopped
- 1 cup celery, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups sweet potatoes, cubed you can use baby potatoes, halved, instead
- 4 cups no-salt added chicken broth
- 8 dried bay leaves (or 4 fresh)
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme
- 1/2 + 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- In a glass jar, add the cashews and hot water. Cover and let soak for 30 minutes. Use this time to prep the other ingredients.
- In a medium-sized pot or dutch oven, heat one tablespoon of oil on medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Reduce heat and saute on low for 8-10 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and saute for 5 minutes. Lastly, add the sweet potatoes and saute for another 5 minutes. During this process, stir the veggies frequently so that they don't burn onto the bottom of the pot.
- Add the broth, bay leaves, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and stir to combine. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let veggies cook for 10 minutes.
- While the veggies are cooking, prepare the salmon. In the frying pan or cast iron skillet, heat up the remaining tablespoon of oil on medium-heat. Add in the salmon and sprinkle on the smoked paprika, garlic powder and remaining salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the salmon is cooked through.
- While the salmon is cooking, add the soaked cashews and water to a blender, and blend on high until smooth and creamy.
- Once the veggies have cooked for 10 minutes, pour the cashew cream into the pot and stir until combined. Add in the cooked salmon and stir to combine. Cover and let simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaves and serve immediately.
- Store up to 3-4 days in the fridge.
Please let me know if you make this soup by posting in the comments! I would love to hear what you think.