Paleo Clam Chowder is a warming, nourishing soup that’s my new favorite.
Very often, my friends will ask, “Steph, do you have a recipe for X?” and that’s exactly what happened to inspire this soup.
Truth be told, I haven’t had clam chowder for years. It’s not exactly something I see often here on menus in ol’ San Diego.
And that sort of pains my New England heart..I was born in Massachusetts and lived there until age 24.
So when Kate asked if I had a recipe for Paleo Clam Chowder, my first reply was, “No, but I’m gonna make one.”
And it came out so good!
How to Make Dairy-Free Clam Chowder
The secret to a rich, creamy broth isn’t the addition of a dairy-free milk as you’d suspect. Yes, this recipe uses coconut milk to finish it off, but I needed a way to bulk out the broth to make it heartier. If you absolutely can’t use ghee, then leave it out for a 100% dairy-free version.
That’s when I remembered my Creamy Leek Soup that has a cauliflower base. It’s flavorful, creamy, and dead simple to make.
I ended up adapting that soup – without leeks – to create the Paleo Clam Chowder base, and it’s a winner.
The flavor-fest continues with a traditional mirepoix of celery, onion, and carrot.
What’s in New England Clam Chowder?
Sure, traditional New England clam chowder doesn’t usually contain carrot, but I’m always looking for ways to sneak in extra color and nutrition.
Then, you’ll add potatoes – see the note at the bottom if you can’t eat potatoes – clams, and the coconut milk.
Fish sauce is included in this Paleo Clam Chowder for its savory, umami flavor. In fact, I put it in almost all my soups and stews even if there’s no seafood in them.
You can’t taste the fish sauce at all. Just trust me, and don’t make the mistake of smelling the bottle. (Wink.)
Remember to drain the clams from their liquid but save the liquid. Don’t let it run down the drain! The clam liquid also boosts the flavor of the soup broth.
I think this Paleo Clam Chowder would be great topped with some crispy bacon, but that’s just me.
Paleo Clam Chowder Recipe (New England Style)
This creamy, dreamy Paleo Clam Chowder recipe will knock your socks off! It's dairy-free, and the broth is loaded with hidden veggies!
- 2 tbsp ghee
- 1/2 small cauliflower chopped into florets (about 3 cups florets)
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 small carrots diced
- 1 stalk celery diced
- 2 medium white potatoes diced
- 20 oz clams (two 10 oz cans)
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 1 cup coconut milk full-fat
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- In a Dutch oven or large pot, combine 1 tbsp of the ghee, the cauliflower, half the onion, and the broth. Bring to a boil and cook until the cauliflower is tender, ~10 minutes. Carefully remove to a blender and purée until you get a thick liquid. Set aside.
- In the same (now empty) Dutch oven over medium heat, add 1 tbsp ghee, the other half of the onion, carrot and celery, pinch of salt and pepper. Cook and stir until the veggies soften but don’t really brown, about 10 min.
- Add the potato, clam JUICE (save clams off to side until later), and 2 cups of the cauliflower “soup” from earlier. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the clams, fish sauce, and coconut milk, stirring to combine and warming everything through. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. If you find the broth is too thick for your liking, you can add a little extra chicken broth to thin it out. I prefer mine on the thick side, but hey, you get to steer the boat in your kitchen.