Canned Salmon soup is delicious, healthy, and really easy to make. It is also affordable and uses mostly ingredients that last for a very long time. It can be made on the stove or in Instant Pot for convenience.
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A lot of Russian (actually, Soviet) food is derived from necessities and absence. Absence of ingredients, absence of time.
Canned Salmon Soup was a staple in my family growing up. Not only it’s easy, quick, and has few ingredients, but it’s also very affordable. Affordability and convenience was one of the main points why the soup was so popular.
Decades later and I still make it when I have no time or energy to go to a grocery store. It is a great recipe for when you are stuck at home and only have a few pantry staples available.
Canned Salmon adds a lot of flavour for a fraction of a cost of fresh or even frozen salmon. Potatoes, onions, and carrots are filling, healthy, and often enough plentiful, they can stay fresh for a long time in a cold pantry. Thus, this salmon soup is perfect when it’s inconvenient to go and buy fresh groceries.
I always used to make Canned Fish Soup on the stove but I also recently adapted it for Instant Pot. The soup is generally super easy and pretty fast to make on the stove and Instant Pot will not make it cook faster. However, Instant Pot can make it more convenient as you don’t have to stay in the kitchen and make sure that the pot doesn’t over-boil.
How to make Canned Salmon Soup on the Stove
- Start with a couple of peeled potatoes, chop them into 1-2 inch pieces and add to a pot of water.
- Add some Better than Bouillon (or stock powder), peppercorns, bay leaves, salt, pepper and a can of salmon with all the liquid. Bring to boil and simmer until potatoes are cooked.
- Meanwhile dice an onion, grate a carrot and sauté both in a little bit of oil for about 10 minutes until the mixture is soft and lightly golden. See notes below about this step.
- A few minutes before the potatoes are ready add the onion-carrot mixture. Sprinkle with some chopped herbs, pepper, salt and serve.
How to make Canned Salmon Soup in Instant Pot
- Sauté diced onion and grated carrot for about 10 minutes until soft and golden in Instant Pot. I like using my ceramic insert for this as it means I don’t have to deglaze the pot.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to Instant Pot and cook for 1 minute on High Pressure.
- Do a quick release and enjoy.
Cooking onions and carrots
Unlike American (or actually French and Italian and many other countries) soups that start with sautéing onions and carrots, most Russian soups start with cooking meat or potatoes first. Sautéed vegetables are added a few minutes before the soup is ready.
There are even many instructions on how to make the sautéed vegetable mix in bulk and preserve so that making soup later is convenient.
Most traditional vegetable mix for soups is diced onions and grated carrots! Grating carrots as opposed to chopping carrots is important in this step.
Grated carrots are very thin and by sautéing them, they almost dissolve in the soup afterwards. If you have a picky eater who doesn’t like chopped carrots in soups, try grating them first, you might be surprised.
Other vegetable mixes include: sautéed bell peppers and onions, mushrooms and onions, peppers and tomatoes, zucchini, even eggplant. You basically chop everything very finely (or grate), sauté separately for 10-15 minutes until soft and golden and then add to the soup right before it’s ready.
Since Instant Pot version of this salmon soup is all about convenience, I start with sautéing the onions and carrots and add the rest of the ingredients to the pot.
Ingredients and variation for canned fish soup
- I grew up always using just 1 can of salmon because it was cheaper.
- If you can add 2 cans, then the flavour will be richer and the soup will be more filling.
- No need to remove the skin and bones from the fish. Canned salmon bones are already really soft, cooking them further will make them even softer. I love eating them.
Carrots and onions
- As I mentioned above, if you are cooking the soup on the stove and have time then try sautéing the veggies separately and adding them towards the end of cooking. The flavour of the soup is different with this method.
- If you don’t have time (or energy) to do that, then you can totally start with sautéing onions and carrots and then add the rest of the ingredients and cook together, just like in the Instant Pot Soup instructions.
- I only use basic salt, pepper, bay leaf, and peppercorns because this is what my mom used when she made this fish soup in Russia.
- You can use your favourite fish soup spices and seasoning if you prefer. I like Old Bay Seasoning and Dried Dill with fish soups.
- I use Better than Bouillon paste almost exclusively for most soups.
- You can use Vegetable stock or Chicken stock. Or any stock you have, actually.
- If you don’t have access to stock powder or Better than Bouillon, I like using Vegetta seasoning.
- This is a delicious soup but it is not a stew. It has a high ratio of liquid to the other ingredients. This is very common for Russian Soups, they have more liquid than other fillings.
- For thicker soup, add more canned salmon and more potatoes.
If you like this soup, then try my Quick and Easy Instant Pot Fish and Potato Soup. It was actually inspired by this recipe and both soups taste quite similar although not exactly the same.
More canned fish recipes
- Affordable Canned and Smoked Salmon Rillettes
- Instant Pot Nicoise Salad
- Sardine Rillettes (and French Appetizers cookbook review)
- Sheet Pan Ricotta-Crab Biscuit Ring Dip
And just for fun, here’s a video I made for this soup back in 2016.
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Quick, Easy, and Affordable Canned Salmon Soup
Stove top instructions
- Open a can of salmon and lightly break up the pieces with a fork.
- Peel and chop potatoes into 1-2 inch pieces.
- Add the chopped potatoes to a pot with broth.
- Add the bay leaves, peppercorns, salt, pepper, and can of salmon with all the liquid. No need to discard the bones or skin.
- Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until potatoes are almost cooked.
- Meanwhile, finely dice the onion and grate the carrot.
- Heat oil in a pan and cook onion and carrot together for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat until the vegetables are soft and turn light golden colour.
- Add the cooked onion and carrot to the pot and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Sprinkle with chopped herbs if using and serve.
Instant Pot instructions
- Finely dice the onion and grate the carrot.
- Turn your Instant Pot on and press sauté button.
- Once the display reads Hot, add the oil first, then onion and carrots. I love using my ceramic instant pot insert when I sauté onions and carrots as it is non-stick. If you aren't using non-stick ceramic insert, then make sure to deglaze the pot with a bit of broth. Just add a few spoonfuls and scrape with a spatula so that there are no bits stuck to the bottom.
- Sauté stirring occasionally for about 8 minutes until the onions and carrots soften and turn golden.
- Meanwhile, chop the peeled potatoes into 1-inch pieces. Open a can of salmon and lightly break up the pieces with a fork.
- Turn sauté function off by pressing cancel.
- Add the chopped potatoes, canned salmon with all the liquid (no need to discard the skin and bones), bay leaves, peppercorns, salt, and pepper to Instant Pot. Pour the broth.
- Close and lock the lid. Turn the vent on the lid to the sealing position.
- Press Manual or Pressure Cooker button (depending on your model) and using the arrow buttons set the cook time to 1 minute. Depending on your Instant Pot model and how cold the broth is, it'll take around 15 minutes to come to pressure. It could take up to 20 minutes, so be patient.
- Once the Instant Pot beeps that 1 minute of cooking are done, do a quick release. This will take about 5-7 minutes.
- Serve with chopped dill or parsley.
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This recipe was originally published on January 4, 2016. Here’s a little excerpt from that old post
Now, for my video non-resolution I created a Stop Motion Video of making of this soup! This particular fish soup took me about two (2!!) hours to make as I took almost 200 (!!!) photos for the video.
First, I feel super excited about it. Second, I feel stupid since I embarked on this project without even doing a tiny test. Third, I am amazed that it worked from the first try.
In recap, for this 37 seconds stop motion video I spent about 2 hours photographing, and about 1.5-2 hours editing photos in Lightroom, exporting, importing, combining them in iMovie, searching for music, and editing. Yes, I have no life!