Smoked-salmon chowder for Robbie Burns Day

Robbie Burns Day!

Robbie Burns Day is an annual tradition in our house. Falling on the Scottish bard’s birthday, January 25th, the day is usually marked by a savory steamed pudding called haggis, which at one time came wrapped inside a sheep’s stomach. Bagpipes, Scotch whiskey, kilts, and an “address to a Haggis” are all part of the celebrations.

If you’ve read this far and are still scratching your head as to who Robbie Burns was anyway,  he’s the guy who penned the words to the New Years Eve song Auld Lang Syne, among many other old Scottish poems. Burns is now a Scottish icon.

To honor Mr. Burns, I thought I would post a new recipe we tried this year to great success… a thick, rich salmon chowder. Salmon runs wild in Scottish rivers and, these days, salmon is also a premium farmed fish that is sustainably raised off the coast of Scotland.

Salmon dishes like this one make a wonderful addition to a Burns supper. But people who want to stay sharp and maybe even stave off alzheimers disease eat salmon a lot more often than once a year. They  put oily fish on their menues at least once a week!


smoled salmon chowder - robbie burns

Smoked salmon chowder
Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 or 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 ounce (50 grams) smoked bacon
  • 1/4 large onion (100 grams)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 pound (450 grams) Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 pound (200 grams) smoked salmon, flaked
  • 1 cup milk ( or cream if you must)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
  • a small pinch of cayenne or to taste
  • Garnish: 2 tablespoons freshly chopped chives, leek greens, green onion,  parsely, or celery tops
  1. In a 4-quart sauce pan over medium heat, fry the bacon in the oil until it begins to crisp, 3-5 minutes
  2. Add the onion and saute 2-3 minutes to soften
  3. Add water and potatoes. Raise heat to high. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are tender
  4. Add salmon and herbs and simmer for 10 minutes or until it heats through. Remove and keep warm
  5. About 10 minutes before serving, add milk, cayenne, and salt. Bring back to hot but do not boil or milk will curdle

I like to serve this soup as a starter in my mother’s fancy teacups. But if it’s the star attraction for lunch, you will want larger servings and a nice warm bagette.

Next time I make this, I am using sweet potatoes in place of the white ones. The orange tubers are better for our health and might add a pleasant sweet note to the mix.


Salmon nutrition

This fish, along with other oily swimmers, is your best bet for the essential omega-3 fats. Oily fish are the only foods that provide this fat in the form your brain nreeds to operate smoothly. You can also get omega-3 from walnuts, flaxseed, and chia seeds… but some studies suggest this form of the fat is not efficiently converted into the kind the brain needs. People who want to boost their brain power and perhaps even stave off alzheimers disease eat salmon and other oily fish at least once a week, in addition to plant sources of this compound.

Salmon is an excellent source of protein. But it also provides other micronutrients that are harder to get. Vitamin D, selenium and B vitamins, for example, are amply present. These all spell good news for your heart, joints, and mood, your ability to think clearly, and your eyes. They also help in preventing cancer.

The knitted piper

Catch the moments as they fly,
And use them as ye ought, man.
Believe me, happiness is shy,
And comes not aye when sought, man.
—Robbie Burns


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Melinda
    Feb 07, 2019 @ 23:05:17

    Oh, my goodness. That looks awesome! I’ll pin it and make your chowder when I can eat salmon again! Just Wow!


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