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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 the rotation are my Vegan French Onion Soup, my Creamy Potato Leek Soup, and this New England Vegan Clam Chowder.
Vegan Clam Chowder? How is that possible?
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 clam 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!
Does Vegan Clam Chowder 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 to 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.
What is Vegan Clam Chowder made of?
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. Check out Barnivore for a vegan wine selection.
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 dulse 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!
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.
Vegan Clam Chowder (Gluten-Free)
Cream Base (see note for alternative)
- ½ cup raw cashews, soaked in water 2-4 hours (*See Note)
- ¾ cup unsweetened soy milk (or any plant-based milk)
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter (or olive oil)
- 8 oz white button mushrooms, cut into ½-inch pieces (or any mushrooms)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon low sodium tamari (sub soy sauce)
- 2 tablespoon vegan butter (sub with olive oil)
- 1 medium yellow onion , diced
- 2 celery stalks , diced
- 2 medium carrots , diced or sliced ¼ inch thick
- 2-3 med/large cloves garlic , minced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ cup dry white wine (a vegan variety)
- 4 cups vegetable broth , low sodium
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (gluten-free or regular)
- 2 medium russet potatoes , peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons kelp granules or dulse flakes (*see note)
- 1 teaspoon Himalayan salt , more to taste
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (*optional)
- Fresh cracked pepper , to taste
- Blend the soy milk & cashews (discard soaking water) together until very smooth. Set aside.
- 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.
- Wipe out the same pot and return to stove. Heat 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.
- 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.
- Sprinkle flour over veggies and stir constantly for 30-60 seconds.
- Stir in broth and add potatoes, bay leaf, kelp granules, and salt. Bring to a simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Discard bay leaves.
- 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.
- Place in your favorite soup bowls & garnish with fresh parsley. Side with crackers or crispy bread. Enjoy!
- To make this cashew-free, omit the Cream Base Step (soy milk and cashews)and replace it with 1 cup of canned lite coconut milk. Add to soup after removing from heat.
Made this for my non vegan adult kids and it was a real hit. I did make this gluten free by using coconut aminos rather than soy sauce and blended more cashews with water to make a thickener (when blended cashews get heated they naturally thicken up). Added a bit of Tabasco to my bowl of soup and it was really good!
Hi Tara! Thanks for the feedback and I'm glad you made it work with the alternatives that you needed. 🙂
This is so delicious and easy to make!! I really loved how filling it was! So glad to be able to enjoy this type of soup again as a vegan:)
That is great to hear Clare. I am super happy you enjoyed this version. 🙂
Absolutely love this soup 😄
Thanks Lynn. 🙂
This recipe was delicious. It was rich and creamy as the author suggested. The white wine, lemon, soy sauce, seaweed, and salt create a balanced acidic and salty broth. I enjoyed the addition of seaweed. It gave it a salty marine taste reminiscent of the ocean, without the clams. I prepared it for a non-vegan friend and she said it tasted "authentic".
It took me about an hour to make it, and I expect most people would take longer than the indicated 45 minutes to recreate this recipe. I spent longer and prep due to the amount of vegetables to chop and that I had to use a blender. I also cooked it for longer than indicated, about 20 minutes for the potatoes to be tender. Between the white wine, mushrooms, and cashews this recipe was more expensive than most vegan dinner recipes I cook, and it only yields six servings, but it was for a special occasion so I didn't mind spending on ingredients and nice bread. I would recommend it for a dinner party or other occasion since it is a more involved dinner recipe, but the effort yields an excellent stew!
Hi Sydney, thanks for the feedback! I am happy you enjoyed this soup and really put an effort in recreating it. 🙂 The preparation and cook time can differ for sure, and I am happy to hear it worked out well for you still.
Creamy and oceany. A truly creative recipe! Love this style of vegan that uses whole foods yet not afraid of a little richness 🙂
Thank you so much, Leora! I am happy that you tried and love this recipe.Definitely a family favorite. 🙂
This was fantastic! I used Portobello mushrooms because it's what I had. I also used extra carrot and potato because I'm greedy. Lol I did finish it with the fresh lemon. Definitely a keeper!
Thanks for dropping by and leaving fantastic feedback, Kimberly. 🙂
It was so good. Added a cup of collard greens. This will be on rotation next week
That is great to know, Zuqueen. Happy weekend. 🙂
Amazing recipe! I made a few substitutions (baby reds instead of russets, cashew milk vs soy, omitted wine and used brown rice flour instead of APF). So incredible and left me feeling much lighter than with regular clam chowder. I love these kinds of recipes for ways to integrate much healthier options and recipes/ingredients I'm not as familiar with using. I love your page and recipes! So many great ideas!
You made my day Cindy! I am so pleased that you like my recipes and find them helpful. ❤️
This was amazing! I highly recommend using oyster mushrooms!! It tasted so much like seafood! :)) I’m so happy with this recipe! I followed it exactly except for lemon which I didn’t have on hand.
I am glad you loved it, Sandy! Thanks for giving it a try.
An exceptional recipe, delicious, hearty, & home style. However, we didn’t get much “clam chowder” as much as we did an fantastic potato/veg soup. Perhaps we did something wrong, either way, an absolute keeper of a recipe!
I'm so glad you liked the recipe. Did you add the kelp flakes? I feel like that adds a nice ocean-like flavor. Thanks for leaving your feedback 🙂
Hi there! Curious what the serving size is for this soup? The recipe says 6 serves but is that for 1 cup? 2 cups? I work for a soup kitchen and its super helpful to have the volume per serving so I can multiply the recipe correctly!
Absolutely love this. I need to make a version without wine - anything I can sub for that?
Hi Mychael, you can just omit the wine and it'll still be delicious! 🙂
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Hi Joseph! We're happy you liked it - thanks for stopping by 🙂