Finding balance with food, movement, and community for my (dairy-free) family.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Creamy, Satisfying, Dairy-Free Clam Chowder

A few weeks ago we had a bit of a blizzard.  There's nothing like a nice arctic wind and swirling snow to get a good craving going for some comfort food.

My husband loves clam chowder, so we decided to gamble and try adapting a recipe to make a non-dairy clam chowder.   The results were bowl-licking fantastic.  The recipe is simple and doesn't require any exotic ingredients.

Dairy-Free Clam Chowder
8 oz bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 celery stalks, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken stock
2 (10 ounce) cans chopped clams in juice (strain out clams, reserve juice)*
1 cup coconut milk **
2 bay leaves
1 pound baby red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  In a cast iron skillet, cook bacon until crispy.   Reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon fat.

2.  In a large pot, heat the reserved 2 tablespoons of bacon fat over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and celery and saute until softened.  

3.  Stir in the flour.

4.  Add the chicken stock, the juice from the clams (reserve clams for step 7), coconut milk, bay leaves, and potatoes.  Stir to combine.

5.  Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly.

6.  Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until potatoes are tender. 

7.  Add clams and bacon, cook 2 more minutes.

8.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  

I was a little worried that the coconut milk would make this chowder sweet, but the saltiness of the bacon offsets it perfectly.  You could feed this to a crowd and never have anyone guess it was dairy-free.  This recipe is based on Dave Lieberman's New England Clam Chowder.

This post shared at Simple Lives Thursday #83  , Sunday Night Soups, Heart and Soul, Allergy Free Wednesday, and Friday Food Flicks.

*Canned clams are probably not the ideal real food choice--in part because the cans are likely lined with BPAs; however, they are the only form in which clams are available locally and seemed a reasonable compromise for comfort food in a blizzard.

**Be sure to get full-fat coconut milk, not a coconut milk beverage.  Coconut milk is typically found in the Asian food section.  The Native Forest brand is canned in BPA-free cans.


  1. I love chowders, and what a great idea to make a dairy free one.
    I'm hosting a weekly blog carnival specifically for soups, stocks and chowders, every Sunday! I would love you to come and post this recipe. Just stop by my blog on Sunday - the link will be up!

    I hope to see you there:)

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe with Sunday Night Soup Night! I'll be hosting weekly through fall and winter, so I'd love to see you again with your next soup/stock/chowder recipe.

  3. Thanks for hosting a great link up! :)