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Our Dairy-Free Cape Cod Clam Chowder Recipe

I've been wanting to make a dairy-free clam chowder for a while now, because I know some of you might be on special diets, or are just looking for healthier options for your favorite comfort foods.

So if you happen to have 10 pounds of clams lying around (or maybe they're on sale at the store) then let's take those clams and make some clam chowder together!

You'd never know that this rich, thick chowder is dairy free either. This recipe is a whole new take on the classic clam chowder, and it's a little more "guilt free" (meaning you can eat a whole lot of it!)

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Making A Healthier Homemade Clam Chowder

A lot of restaurants try to make clam chowder more complicated than it needs to be. Clam chowder only really needs potatoes, clams, herbs and a rich and creamy broth.

This chowder get's it's thick and creamy broth from pureed cauliflower and coconut milk-which you will not taste in the final product. The chowder is full of diced potatoes and freshly shucked and chopped clams, which creates a very hearty chowder. 

You can make this at home with canned or frozen chopped clams, or you can purchase live clams or dig your own clams. Of course I always prefer and recommend you use the freshest clams possible.

To add more smokiness to the rich, buttery flavors of this chowder, I recommend adding in a few slices of crushed up bacon. You can take it up another notch by adding double smoked bacon instead of the regular store bought bacon. 

Even if you don't add in bacon, this chowder will be delicious, and even better the next day (like most chowders and stews).  


The Recipe

To prepare the clams, make sure the shells are clean and none of the clams are open. Any clams that are open prior to cooking should be discarded.

Add the clams to a large pot and fill the pot about 1/4 of the way with water. Bring to a low boil, then cover and turn the heat down to simmer. Let the clams simmer until all the shells have opened.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the clam juice from the pot, then strain out the rest of the water. Use a fork to fish out the clams from their shells and discard the shells. Chop the clam meat and then set aside in the fridge until they're ready to be used.

You can check out the rest of the recipe by scrolling below, or you can click here to print the recipe. 

Required equipment: immersion blender 

An immersion blender is a kitchen tool used for blending soups, sauces, and other liquids. An immersion blender is basically a stick with blender blades at the end of it. Check out this article for more information about how immersion blenders are different than regular blenders.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of cauliflower florets. I like to use two frozen bags of lorets to save time and make clean up easier.
  • 3 cups of vegetable or chicken broth.
  • 1 teaspoon of salt.
  • 4 pounds of clams, chopped. Be sure to save 1/2 cup of the clam juice (which we'll use later on).
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped.
  • 4 stalks of celery, chopped.
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced.
  • 1 teaspoon of dried thyme.
  • 2 pounds of russet potatoes, peeled and diced.
  • 15 ounces of light coconut milk.
  • 1/2 cup of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Instructions:

  1. 1
    In a large saucepan, bring the cauliflower, broth and 1 tsp salt to a low boil, cover and let it simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender (but not mushy). Once tender, turn off the heat and use the immersion blender to blend into a thick broth. Set aside. 
  2. 2
    In a large soup pot, heat 2 TBS olive oil over medium-high heat and add in celery, onion and garlic, sauteeing for 5-6 minutes until the onions and celery are tender.
  3. 3
    Add in thyme, potatoes, coconut milk and pureed cauliflower. Stir occasionally, half covered, for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender (but not mushy).
  4. 4
    Once the potatoes are done, stir in the clams and the 1/2 cup clam juice which you saved from earlier. Bring the pot to a low simmer, and let it cook all together for another 2-3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat and let it sit covered for at least 1 hour before serving, or overnight in the fridge (which is the best option).
  5. 5
    This chowder will be thicker and more flavorful if left in the fridge overnight. Reheat over medium-low heat in the pot. Garnish with fresh parsley and enjoy!

Additional Clam Recipes On My Fishing Cape Cod

Earlier this year I posted a recipe for Smoked Salmon Chowder (pictured below) which is another easy chowder recipe you can make at home. 

If you are interested in learning about even more clam recipes, then please feel free to try another one of our favorite clam dishes, by clicking the links below.


In Conclusion


Clam chowder is a staple on most menus of Cape Cod restaurants, and it is no doubt a Cape Cod favorite. However, many of the most popular clam chowders are loaded with dairy, which doesn't sit well for some people.

For those of you who are looking for a healthier clam chowder alternative, then this dairy-free chowder recipe is worth a try. Not only is it delicious, but it's healthier than traditional chowder recipes and will sit a lot more lightly in your stomach.

Best of luck if you give this recipe a try! As always, please let me know how it goes by leaving a comment below.

Happy cooking! 

What do you think?

Let me know by commenting below.

  1. Lauren, We are limited in using dairy, so I love Clam Chowder and wewill give this recipe a try!

    Reply
    1. That’s great Ron!! I’m so happy to be sharing recipes like this with everyone 🙂

      Reply
  2. I just checked out your Creatively Delish site! Nice! Loved it. Dishes sounded & look so tasty. Love to cook my catch. Think most fisherman do. Can’t wait to try some of your healthy recipes.

    Reply
    1. Thank you so much for checking it out! And let me know how the recipes turn out for you 🙂

      Reply
  3. Sounds like a great alternative to the traditional!
    Definitely worth a try – thanks

    Reply
    1. Thanks Ron! I hope you like it!

      Reply

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