Living in Boston has made me really crave the region’s famous clam chowder, especially during the winter. Unfortunately, clams are pretty expensive & sell out pretty quickly. If you’re an avid cook, you’ll probably have most of these ingredients in your fridge, so your biggest splurge would be the clams. You can always use the canned clams or frozen ones, but they won’t be as fresh. It’s completely reasonable & acceptable if you’re on a budget! My recipe on this delicious chowder is much lighter in terms of calories, butter content, & cream. I believe you can still make an amazing clam chowder without the bacon grease & the cream, but maybe I’m just crazy.
Prep Your Clams in Advance
You want to buy the clams a day before you make the chowder. Wash the clams with cold water, picking off any debris from the ocean. Place the clams in a large enough bowl that will accommodate them, filling it just enough water to cover the clams. Add about 2-3 Tbsp sea salt or kosher salt into the water to emulate an ocean environment for the clams & place in the refrigerator overnight. The clams will do what they do best: filter, allowing you to enjoy clean clams the next day. If the water gets really murky & dirty, change out the water & allow the filtering to go on for a few more hours.
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup dry white wine or sherry
- 3 tsp Old Bay seasoning
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 lbs fresh live steamer, cherry stone, or little neck clams
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 large yellow or white onion, roughly chopped
- 6 celery stalks, roughly chopped
- 3 medium carrots, peeled & roughly chopped (optional)
- 6 medium russet or yukon gold potatoes, peeled & cubed into half inch chunks
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp potato starch or whole wheat flour
- 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tsp white pepper
- pinch of paprika (optional)
- salt to taste
- 1/4 cup fresh chives, minced
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges (optional)
- 1. In a large soup pot (or dutch oven), bring to boil the vegetable broth, wine, seasoning, & bay leaves on medium high heat. Add clams & cover until clams open. If any clams don't open, toss them out - they're bad! Remove from heat & allow to cool.
- 2. In a large dutch oven (or a large soup pot), melt butter on medium high heat. Add onions, celery, & carrots, stirring often. When onions become translucent, add potatoes, garlic, parsley, & vinegar. Stir for about 5 minutes.
- 3. When clams are cool, remove them one by one from their shell & place the meat in a bowl, discarding the shells. Strain the clam juice into the dutch oven with the vegetables, stir, & cover. Bring to a boil & then reduce the heat down to a simmer & allow potatoes to tenderize - about 15 minutes.
- 4. Return to the clams; place a few sheets of parchment paper atop your cutting board & slice clams. Depending how large they are, you can slice them into halves or quarters. Set clams aside.
- 5. In a small bowl, whisk together almond milk, starch, pepper, & paprika. Return to the stove & check on the potatoes. When they're tender, turn the heat back up to medium high & slowly add the cream little by little into the dutch oven, ensuring a homogenous mix. The broth should slowly turn white & creamy. When the chowder begins to bubble/boil, turn it down to medium to medium low.
- 6. When the broth thickens to your liking, stir in the clams, cook for an additional 5 minutes on medium & top with fresh chives. If the broth is too thick, add more vegetable broth. If it's too watery, add more potato starch to a bowl with almond milk & stir in.
- If you want to thicken the broth, mix potato starch with almond milk in a separate bowl BEFORE you add it to the chowder. It is essential that you mix it well before stirring it in or else you'll end up with potato starch dumplings.