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!

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