New England Clam Chowder – GF & DF!

Clam Chowder in Bread BowlWhile planning for a gathering on a Friday night recently I decided to do the classic Friday
“Soup du Jour” of Clam Chowder. Since a couple of the guests couldn’t have dairy and one is gluten free, I figured there must be a Chowder recipe that conformed to those requirements. How mistaken I was!

There were dairy free recipes and gluten free recipes, but my research didn’t yield any that were free of both. So I set out to set that right!

Most New England Chowder recipes have a potato base. Since potatoes have natural starch it didn’t seem necessary to add flour. Why a potato based recipe calls for any kind of thickener is beyond me. The only possible reason I could think of is the type of potatoes used. Russet Potatoes, the large, brown skinned variety, are also the variety with the highest level of starch. That starch is what will thicken this soup. If you use a less starchy variety, you made need to also use a thickener. To learn more, the Huffington Post published a primer on potatoes.

Clam Chowder Ladeling into BowlsThe cream was another story. Almost every recipe had cream, milk or evaporated milk added. This is to give the soup that creamy smooth texture. The dairy free methods used anything from coconut milk to soy milk to almond milk. After several taste tests, I decided that unsweetened, unflavored almond milk was the substitute that would best maintain the true flavor of the clam chowder.

This recipe can also be made with your choice of regular milk or cream if you wish.

New England Clam Chowder – Gluten Free & Dairy Free

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 lbs fresh clams, cleaned
  • 8 oz clam juice
  • 2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 3-1/2 lbs Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 to 1 cup unsweetened, unflavored almond milk OR regular milk

Directions:

  1. In the bottom of a Dutch oven, cook the bacon until crispy.
  2. Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towels, then crumble.
  3. Leave 1 Tablespoon bacon drippings in the pan.
  4. Over medium-high heat, add the onion, celery, and garlic to the bacon grease.
  5. Cook until onion is translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
  6. Add 1 cup of white wine to the pan, bring to a boil.
  7. Simmer for 4-5 minutes, until most of the alcohol smell has dissipated.
  8. Add the clams to the pan at this time. If you prefer to use canned clams, see Gr8 Substitution below.
  9. Cover and cook for about 7 minutes, until clams open. (This could take longer depending on your clams.)
  10. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the clams to a bowl to cool.
  11. Discard any clams that haven’t opened. (Hopefully this will be just one or two.)
  12. Add the clam juice, chicken broth, cubed potatoes, thyme, bay leaf, and pepper to the pan.
  13. Bring to boil.
  14. Turn the heat down and simmer, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
  15. While the potatoes are cooking, remove the clam meat from the shells.Clams w: Shells
  16. Chop the clams, reserving the extra juice that is released. Set aside.
  17. When the potatoes are done blend 3/4 of this mixture using either an immersion blender (one of my favorite kitchen tools) or transfer 1/2 of the mixture to a blender and blend in batches. (Take care to leave the hole in the blender top semi-open or you will have an explosion!) You want to leave some of the potatoes in chunks.
  18. Add the milk and bring to simmer. Use more or less milk depending on the thickness desired.
  19. Add the chopped clams and any reserved juice and cook for about 5 minutes until clams are heated up.
  20. Serve with crumbled bacon sprinkled on top.

Makes 6-8 bowls of deliciousness!

Canned Clams are a Gr8 Substitution:

This chowder can also be  made with canned clams if you don’t want to deal with the fresh guys.

Instructions for using canned clams:

  1. In the bottom of a Dutch oven, cook the bacon until crispy.
  2. Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towels, then crumble.
  3. Leave 1 Tablespoon bacon drippings in the pan.
  4. Over medium-high heat, add the onion, celery, and garlic to the bacon grease.
  5. Cook until onion is translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
  6. Add 1 cup of white wine to the pan, bring to a boil.
  7. Simmer for 4-5 minutes, until most of the alcohol smell has dissipated.
  8. Drain three 6 1/2 oz cans of chopped clams into a bowl.
  9. Add the 8 oz clam juice, the reserved clam juice from the canned clams, chicken broth, cubed potatoes, thyme, bay leaf, and pepper to the pan.
  10. Bring to boil.
  11. Turn the heat down and simmer, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
  12. When the potatoes are done blend 3/4 of this mixture using either an immersion blender (one of my favorite kitchen tools) or transfer 3/4 of the mixture to a blender and blend in batches. Take care to leave the hole in the blender top semi-open or you will have an explosion! You want to have some of the potatoes in chunks.
  13. Add the milk and bring to simmer. Use more or less milk depending on the thickness desired.
  14. Add the drained clams and cook for about 5 minutes until clams are heated up.
  15. Serve with crumbled bacon sprinkled on top.

Bread Rounds in OvenGr8 Serving Tip (This tip makes the recipe NOT Gluten Free.)

Heat up 8 oz rounds of sourdough bread. Then cut the top off and hollow out. Ladle the soup into the bread bowls and serve the bread from the interior alongside for dipping.

 

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