Rich, creamy, and bursting with savory flavor, this luscious New England style vegan clam chowder will warm your heart. This delicious and easy to make soup is like a hug in a bowl!
I have a love hate relationship with clam chowder.
No, that's not true. It sounds really bad to say I have a hate relationship with clam chowder, but that about sums it up. I've got some strong negative feelings towards clam chowder. And I've never even eaten the stuff.
I waited tables at so many restaurants during college. Some of them had good food. Lots of them had not so good food. But the clam chowder is the common thread. It was always kind of repulsive.
I probably wouldn't have liked the stuff to begin with, but ladling bowl after bowl of it as it sat in a hot table for hours (or at the really bad places, days) and having to watch it congeal and do all kinds of gross things, I came to the decision that clam chowder was bad news.
So yeah, I try to avoid getting preachy about food on this site, but today I'll preach. If you're one of my readers who isn't completely meatless, whatever you do, don't go out to a restaurant and order clam chowder. Make your own vegan clam chowder at home instead!
Okay, so perhaps I can say I have a love hate relationship with clam chowder, because I actually love this version. It's a creamy, New England style chowder (if you prefer Manhattan style, go here), and it has everything that's good about clam chowder, and none of the bad.
Having never eaten clam chowder I had to consult with my husband. Would shiitake mushrooms be a good substitute for clams? They're savory, hearty, kind of chewy — he said go for it, so I did!
To achieve the oceany flavor of clam chowder I used a bit of miso paste and dulse flakes. Dulse is a type of dried red algae that's great for adding umami, and in particular for replicating the flavors of seafood. I used it in my vegan tuna salad a while back and have been playing around with it ever since.
So shiitake mushrooms are how you'll start this vegan clam chowder. Sauté them in a bit of oil until they become tender and lightly brown, then remove them from the pot.
Next, sweat onions and celery. Once they've softened up, add some garlic and flour — this will be your thickener. Cook the flour for a minute and add some wine and let it reduce. Finally, return the mushrooms to the pot and add some broth, coconut milk, potatoes, dried herbs and dulse flakes. Simmer everything for a few minutes, then ladle out some of the liquid into a bowl and use it to thin the miso paste before adding it to the pot.
If you want your soup extra creamy you can blend up a small amount. Just use an immersion blender or ladle a cup or two into a blender, blend, and then return it to the pot. Totally not necessary, but it is a nice touch if you've got the time.
Ladle your soup into a bowl, sprinkle with crackers and grab a spoon!
FAQ & Tips for Making Amazing Vegan Clam Chowder
- Miso paste can be found in the international section of most supermarkets. If your store doesn't carry it, try an Asian market or Amazon.
- Dulse flakes can be found in most health food stores, or on Amazon.
- This soup contains coconut milk. Does it taste like coconut? Not overwhelmingly so, but if you're sensitive to the taste of coconut milk you might be able to taste it.
- Can I substitute another type of non-dairy milk? Yes, but the soup won't be quite as rich. Whatever you do, make sure the milk you choose is unsweetened and unflavored, and preferably doesn't have any thickeners. Alternatively, you can try making it creamy by blending up some raw cashews. Use this recipe for guidance.
- Can this soup be made gluten-free? I haven't tested any gluten-free versions of the recipe, but you could try omitting the flour and then thickening the soup with arrowroot or a slurry of a few tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with cold water, added towards the end of simmering.
- Check with Barnivore to ensure your wine is vegan.
New England Vegan Clam Chowder
Rich, creamy, and bursting with savory flavor, this luscious New England style vegan clam chowder will warm your heart. This delicious and easy soup is like a hug in a bowl!
- 3 tablespoons vegan butter, divided
- 6 ounces shiitake mushroom caps, sliced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 medium celery stalks, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup dry white wine
- 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 (14 ounce or 400 ml) can light coconut milk
- 1 ½ pounds golden potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon dulse flakes (optional)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- ½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning (optional)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons white miso paste
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For Serving (Optional)
- Oyster crackers or saltines
- Chopped fresh parsley
- Hot sauce
- Coconut bacon
Set a large pot over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of vegan butter.
When the butter has melted, add the shiitake mushrooms in a relatively even layer. Toss a few times to coat the mushrooms, then let them cook for about 4 minutes, until browned on the bottoms.
Flip the mushrooms and let them cook for about 4 minutes more, to brown on the opposite sides.
Remove the mushrooms from the pot and transfer them to a plate.
Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the pot, then add the celery and onion.
Cook the celery and onion for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent.
Add the garlic and flour to the pot and stir to coat the veggies with flour. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
Stir in the wine and bring it to a simmer. Allow to cook until it reduces by about half, about 3 minutes.
Add the broth and stir until fully incorporated, then stir in the coconut milk, potatoes, dulse, thyme, old bay, bay leaves, and miso paste (Note 1). Stir well to ensure the miso fully dissolves. Return the mushrooms to the pot. Raise the heat, bring the liquid to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.
Allow the mixture to simmer until the potatoes have softened, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
Remove the bay leaves from the soup.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. (Note 2)
Ladle into bowls and top with accompaniments of choice.
- If preferred, the miso paste can be added after the soup is fully cooked and has been removed from heat. This will preserve the probiotic content.
- A portion of the soup can be blended at this point if you'd like it to be extra creamy.
- Nutrition information does not include accompaniments.