New England Clam Chowder – GF & DF!

This is the classic Friday night "soup du jour," Clam Chowder. And this version is gluten-free and dairy free! You can certainly add milk or cream, but it's not necessary!While 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!This is the classic Friday night "soup du jour," Clam Chowder. And this version is gluten-free and dairy free! You can certainly add milk or cream, but it's not necessary!

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.

This is the classic Friday night "soup du jour," Clam Chowder. And this version is gluten-free and dairy free! You can certainly add milk or cream, but it's not necessary!The cream was another story. Almost every recipe used cream, milk, or evaporated milk. 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.

Edited from the original version on February 12, 2018.

New England Clam Chowder - Gluten Free & Dairy Free

6 to 8 servings

Author Anna

Ingredients

  • 6 slices bacon
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 pounds fresh clams, cleaned
  • 8 ounces clam juice
  • 2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 3-1/2 pounds 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

Instructions

  1. In the bottom of a Dutch oven, cook the bacon until crispy. Remove bacon from pan, drain on paper towels, then crumble. Set aside.

  2. Remove all but 1 Tablespoon bacon drippings from the pan.

  3. With the burner on medium-high heat, add the onion, celery, and garlic to the hot bacon grease. Cook until onion is translucent, about 5-7 minutes.

  4. Add 1 cup of white wine to the pan, bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 4-5 minutes, until most of the alcohol smell has dissipated.

  5. Add the clams to the pan at this time. If you prefer to use canned clams, see Gr8 Substitution below.
  6. Cover and cook over medium-high heat for about 7 minutes, until clams open. (This could take longer depending on your clams.)

  7. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the clams to a bowl. I remove the clams as they open so they don't overcook.

  8. Discard any clams that haven't opened. (Hopefully this will be just one or two.) Set the bowl of clams aside to cool.

  9. Add the clam juice, chicken broth, cubed potatoes, thyme, bay leaf, and pepper to the pan and bring to a boil.

  10. Turn the heat down and simmer, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
  11. While the potatoes are cooking, remove the clam meat from the shells.
  12. Chop the clams, reserving the extra juice that is released. Set aside.
  13. 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.
  14. Add the milk and bring to simmer. Use more or less milk depending on the thickness desired.
  15. Add the chopped clams and any reserved juice and cook for about 5 minutes until clams are heated up.
  16. Serve with the crumbled bacon sprinkled on top.

Instructions for using canned clams:

  1. In the bottom of a Dutch oven, cook the bacon until crispy. Remove bacon from pan, drain on paper towels, then crumble. Set aside.

  2. Remove all but 1 Tablespoon bacon drippings from the pan.

  3. With the burner on medium-high heat, add the onion, celery, and garlic to the hot bacon grease. Cook until onion is translucent, about 5-7 minutes.

  4. Add 1 cup of white wine to the pan, bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 4-5 minutes, until most of the alcohol smell has dissipated.

  5. Drain the juice from three 6 1/2 ounce cans of chopped clams into a bowl.

  6. Add the reserved clam juice from the canned clams, the 8 ounces of clam juice, chicken broth, cubed potatoes, thyme, bay leaf, and pepper to the pan and bring to a boil over high heat.

  7. Turn the heat down and simmer, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
  8. 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.
  9. Add the milk and bring to simmer. Use more or less milk depending on the thickness desired.
  10. Add the drained clams and cook for about 5 minutes until clams are heated up.
  11. Serve with crumbled bacon sprinkled on top.

Recipe Notes

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.

Gr8 Serving Tip (This tip makes the recipe NOT Gluten Free.)

Heat up 8-ounce 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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