One of my all time favorite soups is clam chowder. New England clam chowder to be exact. No tomatoes here, thank you very much. I’ve always been a sucker for a a creamy bowl of steaming hot clam chowder with oyster crackers, of course. Who’s on team oyster cracker with me? YASSSS! But, I’m also the weirdo that loves hot soup in summer weather. I’m just a big soup person because I love eating all of my meals in bowls. Everything tastes better when bowls are involved. Who doesn’t love eating butter chicken in a bowl for the most epic meal ever?
So friends, even though we’ve had the first official day of spring and us New Englanders are about to get hit with our fourth snowstorm of March- can we just take a moment to remember spring?- I’m making clam chowder. I’m still making soups like my instant pot creamy tomato soup because we’re still bundled up in all our winter gear. But the thing with this specific clam chowder is that it lends itself to the spring palate. It has all of the richness of clam chowder without the heaviness of cream and butter that clam chowder can have. It’s a lighter fare, while still being true to its origins, in a much better for you sorta way. It’s lightness gives it a craveability factor in the spring!
If you want to have it everyday for a week and not feel the guilt or baggage of a heavy meal, you can. We’ve all been there- I have personally had this chowder on repeat over the last week. We’ve covered all the basics in this clam chowder, and moved away from what can sometimes be a disappointing soup. Add too much cream and it becomes a milky mess with a hint of clams. Add too much flour, and soup becomes too pasty for my liking. And let’s just forget the cardinal sin of overcooking clams! This soups corrects all of the mistakes that can happen with clam chowder, while being easy to throw together. I wish that statement was true about all of things of adulting and life.
This soup has:
√ Indulgence.The richness of a roux thickened soup- a combo of flour and butter- but without all the flour. I simply use potatoes and puree some of them at the end and add a tablespoon of potato starch to thicken even more if I want a thicker soup. Or use cornstarch/arrowroot powder. Your call.
√ Satisfaction.The texture of cream, without using any dairy. Swap out the cream and half and half with a much lighter almond milk and coconut milk combo. I use unflavored nutpods for my coconut nut milk.
√ Convenience. We’re using frozen clams. Because, let’s face it- not everyone can get fresh clams and/or has the time to clean and steam them. This is a weeknight meal here. No epic processes need apply.
√ Forgiveness. If you can’t find frozen clams, you can use canned clams just as easily. If you want to stick to your dairy version, feel free, friend. We are a judgment free zone here. And we use bottled clam juice because see convenience.
√ Whole30/Paleo Friendliness. I cannot count the number of days I eat soup when I stick to a clean, whole30 or paleo situation. And I miss my comfort foods like chowder. This soup is all that and a tray of baked plantain chips. Yumminess galore! Major bonus, my kids love this soup with bread. Mom win. Period.
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 3 stalks celery, trimmed and diced
- 3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 2 8 oz bottles clam juice
- 2 cups unsweetened almond milk (regular milk can be used if you're not doing whole30/paleo)
- 1 cup full-fat coconut milk or unflavored nutpods (heavy whipping cream can be used if not doing whole30/paleo)
- 24 oz. frozen clams, thawed, drained and chopped (You can use canned too)
- 1 tbsp potato starch/arrowroot powder dissolved in 1 tbsp cold water (cornstarch can be used if you're not doing whole30/paleo)
- 2-3 tsp salt (or to taste)
- pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp ghee (butter can used if not doing whole30/paleo)
- Heat ghee in a medium pot, over medium heat. Add onions and saute until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add celery and salt and continue cooking for 3 more minutes, until the veggies start releasing their moisture.
- Add pepper, potatoes and clam juice. Cover and reduce to simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are fully cooked and tender. Remove from heat.
- Using a potato masher or immersion blender, puree/mash the soup base until it's to your desired consistency. I like my soup a little bit chunky so I usually puree half of the soup.
- Stir in clams and return soup to a simmer. Add in the potato starch mixed with water. Continue to stir to avoid lumps- you may feel the soup getting thicker. Slowly stir in almond milk and cook until the soup is heated through, about 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and serve hot with more black pepper if desired.