Here’s a secret; I have never actually had clam chowder or made it, until the other weekend. The most obvious reason is that I am allergic to dairy and almost every single place that I’ve been to always makes them with cream, milk, butter and so on.
For a few weeks my boyfriend had asked me to try and make one that is dairy free - he loves it and lucky for him he doesn’t have an food allergies. To be honest, I kept putting it off because I wasn’t sure if the ingredients I would need to use, would result in that creamy comforting factor that you get from a “regular” clam chowder. I hate buying a bunch of ingredients and spending the time and the money making a dish when it just doesn’t come out the way you had hoped for.
Last weekend I decided to finally give it a try because I love clams and to be honest, the recipe is way easier than it seemed. You’re going to love it; minimal ingredients, confronting, much healthier, and it comes together pretty quickly.
Ok, so to give a dairy free clam chowder a creamy thick texture, I decided to make my own homemade cashew milk. (Don’t be turned off yet!). There are a few reasons that I decided to use cashew milk - one you do not have to strain it at all as you would with almond milk, soaked cashews blended are this little miracle nut- they can be turned into a cream, cream cheese, frostings, used for desserts, making a raw cheesecake; really just about anything you can think of - you can use the cashews for. Lastly, I have made my own homemade cashew milk so many times that I knew when it would be heated over the stove top it would thicken quickly versus any store bought brand.
For the cashews, since you do need to soak the cashews in water first, I prepared that the morning of! I simply let the cashews soak in water on the kitchen table for about 4 hours. After you drain and wash them completely, you will need to blend the cashews in the blender with clear water. THAT IS IT. You can also soak the cashews overnight or in the morning before you head to work and they will be ready when you want to make the chowder. Here is my recipe for homemade cashew milk. Any leftover cashew milk you have from the recipe you can store in the fridge for up to 4 days and use for your smoothies, oatmeal, chia puddings, etc.
I also decided to use sweet potatoes (Japanese Yams, the ones that are white on the inside and slightly purple on the outside). You can use a russet potato if you prefer. I like them equally, I just simply wanted to use up the sweet potatoes that I already had on hand. For this, you can do one of two things. Roast the sweet potatoes in the oven for about 35-45 minutes until they are done (like I did) or you can sautee them in the pan until they are tender for about 20 minutes, but be careful to not let them burn! I personally found it easier to roast the potatoes before hand (so many roast an extra one up during meal prep or the night before!)
The other things that I added to the chowder, were turkey bacon (optional), chopped celery, onion, and the clams! When I added all the ingredients into the pot and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, it thicken and tasted amazzzzzzing. You have to make it; it is worth it.
See the notes section for any additional things you might want to check out before making! For this recipe you will have leftovers unless you are serving up to 4 people, but you can freeze whatever you do not eat and then re-heat for a quick soup after work on a cold day.
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: less than 1 hour (*Soak cashews for 4 hours +)
1 cup cashews, soaked in water for 4+ hours.
1 medium sweet potato, cubed
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 cups clean, filtered water
6 celery stalks (about 1 cup or so)
4 slices turkey bacon (optional!)
8 oz clam juice
2 6.5 oz canned clams (they chopped one)
sea salt to taste
pepper to taste
dash of cayenne pepper
* For the clam juice & canned clams, I purchased these at Whole Foods. Check the store locator OR use any brand you prefer.
To make the cashew milk. Yields about 2 cups.
Soak the 1 cup of cashews in water, covered. Overnight or for 4 hours.
Drain, rinse and add the cashews to your blender with 2 cups of CLEAN water.
Blend on high for a few minutes.
Set aside and prepare the rest.
Roast the sweet potatoes in the oven for 35 minute at 425 degrees. Lightly coat with coconut oil or olive oil and sea salt. Prepare the rest below.
In a large pot, add about 2 tbsp. olive oil.
Add in the chopped onions on medium heat and sautee until they start to brown and become tender. (10 minutes)
Add in the celery. While the celery and the onions continue to break down. Cook the turkey bacon in a skillet if you are using according to directions on packet. Remove from pan when done and place on a paper towel to let it absorb any extra oil.
Add the turkey bacon, chopped to the pan with the clam juice and 2 cups of the homemade cashew milk. When the sweet potatoes are done, add to the pot.
Allow this to simmer for 20 minutes, covered, on medium to low heat. Stirring occasionally.
Add the canned clams, sea salt, pepper.
Taste test and adjust to needs. Allow this to heat for about 5-10 minutes.
Serve immediately. top with extra turkey bacon and crackers!
I did not test out any other nut milks nor full fat canned coconut milk. Any store bought milks will change the texture. Full fat canned coconut milk might be too rich / heavy tasting.
Store in an airtight container in your fridge for up to 2 days or freeze for longer! To re-heat add to a large pot, to medium heat and allow it to simmer until warm.
Adjust seasonings and spices used to your preference.
To save time, I prepared the sweet potatoes the night before while I was roasting other vegetables.
The brand of the clam juice and the canned clams I used, I purchased at Whole Foods. Sub any brand of preference.