RecipesSoups and Salads

New England Vegan Clam Chowder (Gluten-Free)

posted by Melissa Huggins January 16, 2017 22 Comments
Warm up on a chilly night with this rich, creamy & hearty New England Vegan Clam Chowder. It takes 30 minutes to make & it's easy to prepare, too.

Warm up on a chilly night with this rich, creamy & hearty New England Vegan Clam Chowder. It takes 30 minutes to make & it’s easy to prepare, too.

Warm up on a chilly night with this rich, creamy & hearty New England Vegan Clam Chowder. It takes 30 minutes to make & it's easy to prepare, too.
If anyone knows me, they know I’m a big soup fanatic. They are easy to prepare, filling, satisfying, inexpensive, and they’re great make-ahead and freezable meals. Some family favorites in rotation are my Vegan French Onion Soup, my Creamy Potato Leek Soup and this New England Vegan Clam Chowder.

Vegan clam chowder? What? Why?

People may wonder why some vegans want to recreate a recipe that is mostly animal-based. For me, I just like to enjoy flavors and textures that are familiar to me, and there’s nothing else behind it.

I also feel recipes like this are great for transitioning vegans, and they can change their diet without changing their palate. Besides, most animal-based ingredients taste kind of bland on their own. It’s the veggies, herbs and spices that bring a recipe to life.

Clams have a chewy texture, are salty and sometimes sandy. Yep, I’ve had clam chowder with sand in it, and it’s not appetizing. Imagine just boiling clams in water without any flavoring – not so tasty anymore, right? What makes the chowder appealing is the creamy, buttery texture, the tender veggies, and the warm, comforting feeling you get when you eat it.

So why not recreate the clam-like texture, saltiness and subtle sea-like flavor and make a tasty and cruelty-free version? Sounds good to me.

Warm up on a chilly night with this rich, creamy & hearty New England Vegan Clam Chowder. It takes 30 minutes to make & it's easy to prepare, too.Does it taste like the original?

Now I’m not going to say this tastes exactly like clam chowder, but it’s pretty darn close. This vegan version will provide similar textures and flavors of the original, without using dairy or clams. It’s creamy, rich, buttery, hearty and worlds healthier, too.

You won’t be missing flavor at all, but you’ll be skipping out on unhealthy fat, antibiotics & other nasty stuff from the dairy. Plus, it will be sans mercury and other contaminants from the clams.

With this Vegan Clam Chowder, you can leave your friends in the ocean and cow’s udders alone.

Warm up on a chilly night with this rich, creamy & hearty New England Vegan Clam Chowder. It takes 30 minutes to make & it's easy to prepare, too.So what’s in this chowda?

To create the clam-like texture, I sautéed white button mushrooms in vegan butter, garlic and a bit of soy sauce. This will give them a nice depth and a hint of saltiness. Any mushrooms can be used, but I decided to use the most readily available and cheapest. This goes well with oyster mushrooms or shiitake too, but those can be costly. You can also add a blend of your faves. There are no mushroom rules here!

Next, I sautéed onions, garlic, celery, carrots and thyme together. Carrots aren’t traditionally used in the New England version, but they’re in the East Hampton one. I like the pop of color, flavor and texture they add, so I use them. Feel free to omit them.

I’m not sure if this is traditionally used either, but I’ve gotta add some vino when possible. It adds another layer of flavor, plus it’s a great excuse to have a glass while you’re cooking. Cheers!

To thicken the soup, I sprinkle in gluten-free flour, but you can use regular all-purpose flour. Now I add the vegetable broth, potatoes and sea salt.

To give the chowder a subtle sea-like flavor, I use kelp or dulce flakes/granules. Broken up nori sheets can be used too. This ingredient isn’t necessary, but will make the flavor more reminiscent of clam chowder. It also provides a natural source of iodine too.

For the creamy finish, I blended raw cashews together with unsweetened soy milk. Any milk can be used, I just prefer soy because it has a richer texture. Full-fat coconut milk would be my next choice. Just make sure the milk is unsweetened.

Now ladle it into your favorite soup bowls, top with fresh-cut parsley and side with classic saltine crackers or crispy bread.

Are you ready to give this a try? Let’s do this!

Warm up on a chilly night with this rich, creamy & hearty New England Vegan Clam Chowder. It takes 30 minutes to make & it's easy to prepare, too.I’d love to hear from you

If you make this Vegan Clam Chowder, I’d love to get your feedback. You can leave a comment below and let me know what you think. It would really make my day. You can also follow me on Instagram and share your creation with me. Just tag me @veganhuggs and hashtag #veganhuggs so I don’t miss it.

Warm up on a chilly night with this rich, creamy & hearty New England Vegan Clam Chowder. It takes 30 minutes to make & it's easy to prepare, too.
New England Vegan Clam Chowder

Serves 4

Vegan Clam Chowder (Gluten-Free)

Warm up on a chilly night with this rich, creamy & hearty New England Vegan Clam Chowder. It takes 30 minutes to make & it's easy to prepare, too.

15 minPrep Time

30 minCook Time

45 minTotal Time

Save Recipe


Cream Base
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked in water 2-4 hours (*See Note)
3/4 cup unsweetened soy milk (or any plant-based milk)
1 tablespoon vegan butter (or olive oil)
8 oz white button mushrooms, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (or any mushrooms)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce or tamari
Soup Base
1 tablespoon vegan butter .
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 medium carrots, diced or sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 med/large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup dry white wine (*See Note)
4 cups vegetable broth, low sodium (*See Note)
3 tablespoons gluten-free or regular all-purpose flour
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dulse flakes/granules or kelp flakes/granules (or a small piece of crushed nori paper)*See note
1 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Fresh cracked pepper, to taste


    Cream Base
  1. Blend the soy milk & cashews (discard soaking water) together until very smooth. Set aside.
  2. Mushrooms
  3. In a large sauce pot over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon butter. When heated, add mushrooms and sauté until the liquid evaporates (about 3 minutes). Now add 1 clove minced garlic and soy sauce. Sauté until the mushrooms are tender & lightly browned. About 2-4 minutes. Remove mushrooms and set aside.
  4. Soup Base
  5. Wipe out the same pot and return to stove. Heat oil & butter over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add celery, carrots, garlic & thyme. Sauté about 5-7 minutes, or until veggies are tender.
  6. Add wine and turn heat up to medium-high to simmer. Once simmering turn heat back to medium. Cook wine down, about 3-5 minutes. Stir often.
  7. Sprinkle flour over veggies and stir constantly for 1-2 minutes.
  8. Stir in broth and add potatoes, bay leaf, dulce or kelp flakes/granules or nori, and salt. Bring to a simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Discard bay leaves.
  9. Turn heat to medium low and slowly stir in cashew cream. Taste for seasoning and add more if needed. Cook for 3-4 minutes and remove from heat. Stir in mushrooms, lemon juice and fresh cracked pepper.
  10. Place in your favorite soup bowls & garnish with fresh parsley. Side with crackers or crispy bread. Enjoy!
Recipe Type: Soup


*To speed up soaking time for cashews: in a small pot, boil water and remove from heat. Add cashews and cover for 10-15 minutes, until softened.

*Vegetable Broth: I like to use low sodium broth, so I can control the salt taste. Some broths are too salty and can ruin a good recipe. If you would like to use a regular broth, make sure to cut down the added salt in the recipe. Taste as you go along. Another option, is to blend low sodium and regular broth together.

*Wine: not all wine is vegan and may contain egg whites. However, there are many that are vegan. Here is a vegan wine directory .

*The kelp, dulse or nori isn't a necessary ingredient, but will make the flavor more ocean-like & reminiscent of clam chowder. Feel free to omit.

Prep time doesn't include soaking time for cashews.




* If you’d like to pin for later 🙂 

Warm up on a chilly night with this rich, creamy & hearty New England Vegan Clam Chowder. It takes 30 minutes to make & it's easy to prepare, too.

Vegan Huggs is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This post may contain affiliate links, which means I make a small commission if you purchase the item after clicking on the link. This helps cover the cost of keeping the site running. There will be no additional charge to you, if you purchase an item through an affiliate link. I will only link items that I use myself.

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dianne January 18, 2017 at 10:53 am
I've actually never had clam chowder! I always hated seafood as an omnivore and I was afraid to try it. I'd love to try this vegan version, though!
Melissa Huggins January 28, 2017 at 9:04 pm
I know many people who hated seafood too. I thought it was so weird. Lol. I couldn't imagine having it now :)
Mary Ellen @ VNutrition January 19, 2017 at 5:28 am
Ooh, I used to love clam chowder. Excited to try yours! PS - your pin image with the little anchor is so cute!
Melissa Huggins January 28, 2017 at 9:14 pm
Thank you, Mary Ellen! I hope you love it. Nick made the pin for me...I like the anchor too :)
Amy Katz from Veggies Save The Day January 19, 2017 at 9:27 pm
I loved clam chowder as a kid, but not the clams! I would eat around them and they would all be left at the bottom of the bowl. I know I'm going to eat every drop when I try yours!
Melissa Huggins January 28, 2017 at 9:18 pm
Thank you, Amy! My sister was the same way. She would put them in my bowl though :)
Jenn January 20, 2017 at 7:43 am
This looks amazing! Soup is my favorite thing too, but I was never a fan of clam chowder...even back in my seafood loving days. But THIS clam chowder I can definitely get on board with!!
Melissa Huggins January 28, 2017 at 9:17 pm
Yeah, a lot of people are put off by the texture of the clams. I'm not sure why I loved them so much. I couldn't imagine it now.
Steph January 20, 2017 at 2:22 pm
This soup is great, we had it last night with homemade crusty bread! I didn't see where the recipe specifies when to add the sautéed mushrooms so I put them in with the potatoes. Will definitely make again
Melissa Huggins January 20, 2017 at 4:45 pm
Hi Steph, thank you so much for your feedback. I'm so happy to hear you liked it. I'm so sorry the inclusion of mushrooms was missing from the recipe. I fixed the error and thank you for catching that. Have a great weekend :)
Diane January 22, 2017 at 7:59 am
Delicious. Great to have a recipe that keeps the vegans and non-vegans happy.
Melissa Huggins January 28, 2017 at 9:13 pm
Hi Diane, I agree... it's a great way to keep us all together :)
Mel | January 22, 2017 at 2:52 pm
I used to love clam chowder in my pre-vegan days and this looks so much like it.It's so thick and creamy. I love the big chunks of veggies in it too. I need to try it!
Melissa Huggins January 28, 2017 at 9:11 pm
Thank you, Mel! I was a big fan too. So cool to have mock dishes that we used to love. :)
Johanne January 24, 2017 at 1:54 pm
I have never even thought of replicating clam chowder in a vegan form. Hmmm I need to try this ASAP. Thank you Johanne
Melissa Huggins January 28, 2017 at 9:09 pm
It's quite close to the real thing. Thank you for stopping by Johanne :)
Lee | LifeNaturalee February 27, 2017 at 5:25 am
Love this recipe :) I've been looking for the perfect clam chowder recipe and I believe I've found it! Thank you so much for sharing!
Melissa Huggins March 7, 2017 at 10:37 am
Hi Lee, thank you so much! I hope you love it :)
Sydney February 28, 2017 at 7:40 pm
One of the best vegan dishes I have made yet! Most of them I modify myself, but I decided to follow this one pretty closely. Couldn't get any closer to vegan clam chowder than this recipe!
Melissa Huggins March 1, 2017 at 8:50 pm
Hi Sydney, Thank you so much! I'm so happy you liked it. I've been making it a lot lately. Need to get it all in before the warm weather hits :)
Tina T March 29, 2017 at 11:02 am
I made this last night with fresh King Oyster Mushrooms and Shiitake Mushrooms, it was delicious. These two mushrooms mimicked the chewy texture of clams quite well from what I remember before going vegan. I also tossed in a pinch of Old Bay Seasoning with the Kelp Granules to boost the seafood like flavor. I look forward to making this dish again and plan to garnish it with pieces of crispy vegan bacon next time.
Melissa Huggins March 30, 2017 at 7:56 pm
Hi Tina, thank you for making it! I love the mushroom combo you used. I love the idea of Old Bay, too... I think I have to try that next time. Oh, and definitely with that crispy vegan bacon! Thank you for your feedback :)

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