Dairy Free New England Clam Chowder

Ummmm no … I’m not actually drinking clam juice, I mean ewwww!! But, it’s National Clam Chowder Day so if ever there was a day I was going to drink it, it would be today. JK. Not ever. BUT … I did make this amazing dairy-free chowder and was overwhelmed with how delicious it was. Usually, I make Manhattan clam chowder. Which, come to think of it, really isn’t very chowdery but I prefer the tomato-based version over the milky one. Alas, my favorite man loves it so there you go.

With Lenten season upon us, clam chowder is a perfect Friday-night meal—or any-night meal for that matter.

If you Google clam chowder recipes, you will be overwhelmed with the variations … some use heavy cream, some ½ and ½, some instant potato flakes as a thickening agent, others cornstarch or flour … some use red potatoes, some Yukon gold … there are so, so, so many versions it’s hard to decide which one to cook. So for this recipe, I combined the things I like, removed what I don’t, and came up with a super delicious chowder that is so good I was genuinely surprised. It’s thick and creamy but rest assured not so much that it sticks to the spoon like frosting—the secret? Silk brand, dairy-free heavy whipping cream. Which in theory really isn’t whipping cream but it works equally well to thicken soups and sauces alike. Here’s my version:

Dairy-free New England Clam Chowder

PREP TIME: 25-30 minutes COOK TIME: 25-30 minutes

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • ½ yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 head garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs plant-sourced butter
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 10 red potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups water, (approximately)
  • 1 8oz. jar clam juice (note, if you use fresh clams, preserve the water used to cook them in, and use that instead of clam juice)
  • 1 to 1 ½  cup dairy-free heavy cream
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups clams: one 8 ounce can chopped, one 8 ounce can whole
  • 2-3 Tbs parsley, chopped
  • OPTIONAL: 10-12 whole clams in shells, cooked
  • OPTIONAL: 8-10 slices of bacon for topping

In a large Dutch oven, saute celery, onion and garlic in butter and olive oil for 5 minutes. Add potatoes, clam juice, and just enough water to cover potatoes, cook on med-high for 15 minutes. Remove 1 cup and set aside to cool for 5 minutes, then using an emulsion blender (if you have one otherwise use a regular blender) blend some of the soup, but not all. Add cream, bay leaf, chopped and whole clams, pepper, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining liquid with ⅓ cup flour, stir and let sit. In a separate pan, cook bacon until crisp, remove, drain fat, and chop. Set aside.

Add flour mixture to Dutch oven, stir well and bring just to a boil for 30 seconds, stirring the mixture so it’s evenly distributed. Toss in cooked clams in shells (because it’s pretty ; ) Remove bay leaf and serve in a bowl with bacon sprinkled on top. Add a dusting of chopped parsley and or crackers or crusty bread. Enjoy!

DISCLAIMER: Our recipes are just that, ours. Some are modified versions of dishes we’ve had elsewhere or old-favorites that contained animal proteins, while others are a concentrated effort of trial and error. But all are intended to be altered by you and made to suit your tastes. So if you want more garlic or none at all, go for it. You do you ; )

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