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Bacon-Leek Sockeye Salmon Chowder
A family kitchen recipe test by food blogger Michelle Lee, our Colorado Home Cook

Welcome to my Colorado kitchen!

This series features me, Michelle — a writer and soccer mom from the Rocky Mountains — my husband and two kids, some beautiful Vital Choice seafood, and lots of regular home cooking.

(Click here to learn more about me, below.)

I want to feature the products and preparations you’re curious about.

Have a suggestion? Question? Recipe you want me to test?

Email me and help to shape this series.

I absolutely love winter cooking — soups and stews are some of my favorite meals.

They’re satisfying, packed with vegetables and lean protein, and give you that “stick-to-your-ribs” feeling without too many calories.

My colleagues at Vital Choice recently shared with me one of their 5-lb. bulk packs of skinless-boneless, random-size Wild Alaskan sockeye portions.

The variety of portion sizes in these 5-pound packs present enough wonderful possibilities — like smaller portions for sandwiches or stir-fries, and larger portions as entrees — to make several meals.

(Once you thaw fish, it should be used within a day or two. So, unless you have other uses for leftover pounds of sockeye, use individual 6-oz. skinless-boneless portions or 4-oz. skinless-boneless portions, which can be individually thawed for use as needed.)

With that much beautiful sockeye salmon in the fridge, I knew it was time to experiment with a lighter version of salmon chowder.

Many versions use all milk and cream to form the base of the soup. My version is much lighter, using largely chicken or vegetable broth to form the base, then finished with a bit of dairy for texture and flavor.

And, according to my calculations, each 1½ cup serving has only 275 calories, making this a warm and satisfying light lunch or starter to your meal.

A few notes for the cook
The night before preparing this simple soup, move it from the freezer to the fridge to thaw.

I used leeks for this recipe, but it would be equally delicious with onions or shallots — whatever you happen to have on hand.

Also, I started this dish with a small amount of pork bacon to use as garnish, and the remaining grease in the pan is used in lieu of other cooking oil.

Feel free to skip this step and use the oil of your choice, but the bacon garnish is a delightful touch!

(If you use salmon bacon, it won’t yield enough fat to use in lieu of other cooking oil. You could also use Wild Salmon Bacon Bits as garnish.)

Once you’ve added the dairy to the soup, please don’t let it return to a boil. You merely want to warm it through before serving, or the dairy can “break” and lose its creamy texture.

Bacon-Leek Sockeye Salmon Chowder
Makes six 12-ounce servings

  • 3 slices of bacon (pork or wild salmon), cut into small pieces
  • 1 leek, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced, and rinsed well
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 3 Yukon gold or russet potatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes (I don’t peel mine, but you’re welcome to.)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn (I used frozen.)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used organic chicken.)
  • 1 pound boneless-skinless random-size sockeye salmon portions, cut into 1-inch cubes (Alternatively, you could use three 6-oz. portions or four 4-oz. portions.)
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup half and half
  • Fresh dill or fresh chives, chopped for garnish


  1. In a large saucepan, brown the bacon pieces over medium-low heat until crisp and brown. (If you use salmon bacon, do not cook it until brown.) Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.
  2. Return the saucepan to medium heat and add the leeks, celery and carrots to the warm bacon grease. Sauté 5 minutes, until the vegetables are softened.
  3. Stir in the minced garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook 1 minute, until the garlic becomes fragrant.
  4. Add cubed potatoes and corn and cook until warmed through, 3-5 minutes.
  5. Stir in thyme, bay leaf and broth and bring to a boil. Lower temperature to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Lightly season salmon cubes with salt and pepper and add to simmering broth. Cooking, stirring gently, until salmon is cooked through, 6-8 minutes.
  7. Lower heat to low and add combined milk and half and half and cook just until warmed through.
  8. Do not let soup return to a simmer or the dairy will “break.”
  9. Taste for seasoning, then serve warm, garnished with bacon crumbles and chopped fresh chives or fresh dill.

 My rating: 3½ out of 4 stars


A Note from Michelle

Like you, I have a passion for beautiful-yet-healthy food that’s easy to prepare. 

While I do love making the occasional "fancy” dinner, most of the time I’m short on time and have a house full of hungry people who want to eat NOW.

I’m not a professional chef – just a busy mom who loves to cook and who’s focused on that intersection of healthy and delicious.

I want this series to feature the products and preparations you’re curious about.

Have a suggestion? Question? Recipe you want me to test?

Email me and help to shape this series.

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