Clam Chowder – Low Carb, No Flour, No Potatoes, But Still Awesome


August 21, 2012 by Suzanne

Grain-Free, Low-Carb

I have been wanting to figure out how to make a low-carb version of clam chowder for a while now, and last night I finally did it. I think it’s actually easier to make the low-carb version than it is to make my traditional version, and it tastes amazingly close to the real thing. The mouth feel is the same, the consistency is the same, the creaminess is still there, and it’s very satisfying. The only difference is that instead of hint of starchy potato you get a hint of slightly sweet cauliflower. It even passed the husband test.

This recipe made 5 very large bowls, about two cups each, and the calories per bowl are about 400, which is about the same as regular clam chowder (fewer than Campbell’s), even with all the cream and cheese. That’s a pretty good deal if you ask me.


2 qt or so of water

Cauliflower – Either 1 and a half large heads, two medium, or three small. Cauliflower makes up the bulk of the soup, so when in doubt, add more, not less.

5 Large stalks of celery – Halved lengthwise and chopped. If you use narrow stalks, there is no need to halve them.

Onion – One medium or half of a huge one, chopped.

3  6.5oz cans of minced clams

1/3 to 1/2 C shredded Parmesan cheese – None of that powdered gunk, use actual Parmesan cheese, which is available at Costco at a very reasonable price. You don’t need to spring for Parmigiano-Reggiano; the cheaper non-name-protected stuff is fine. If you don’t have any, you can use another variety of cheese such as cheddar or colby jack.

1 1/3 C Heavy Cream

Salt and white pepper

1-3 tsp Xanthan Gum

In a large pot (at least 4 qt), break up the cauliflower into floret-sized pieces. You can add some of the stem, as most of the cauliflower is going to end up pureed. Add just the juice from all three cans of clams, and then add water until it just covers the cauliflower. Don’t add the clam meat until later.

Bring the cauliflower to a boil over med-high heat and let it boil for 15-18 minutes, until it is soft. Meanwhile, saute the onions, using a little butter or olive oil if needed, and set aside. (If you want, you can skip sauteing fresh onion and put in dehydrated onion at the same time you add the celery. Either way is fine.)

When the cauliflower is softened, remove about 1/3 of it with a slotted spoon and set aside. Puree the rest of the cauliflower with the water. I use a handheld stick blender. Once it is all smooth, add the celery and sauteed onion (or dehydrated) and simmer until the celery is cooked, about another 10-12 minutes. The soup will look very thick at this point, but that is the way it should be. Don’t dilute it.

While the celery is cooking, cut up the rest of the cooked cauliflower into small chunks. The goal with the whole pieces is to replace the pieces of potato in traditional chowder. They don’t need to be minced, but I would avoid big pieces.

Note: If you have any dehydrated cauliflower, it can make this step easier. Cook one large head of cauliflower, puree all of it, and just re-hydrate a few handfuls of dehydrated cauliflower and add it at the end. I added boiling water to my dried cauliflower and let it soak when I did all the other steps.

Once the celery is done, remove the soup from the heat and add the clams, cauliflower pieces, Parmesan cheese, and cream. Add salt and white pepper to taste. Personally, I prefer it pretty peppery.

The last step is to sift in some xanthan gum to add a little thickness and to stabilize the cheese so it doesn’t separate as it cools. Sift it finely just a little at a time, and stir completely before adding more. When it is as thick as you want it, you’re done. How much you use will depend on how thick you want your chowder. I estimate that I used about 1 tsp. Avoid over-thickening, as it is not as appetizing.

2013-06-25 18.41.44


If you make one pot into 5 servings, there are 14g of net carbs per serving.


13 thoughts on “Clam Chowder – Low Carb, No Flour, No Potatoes, But Still Awesome

  1. Janet Lee says:

    This is Very good recipe however I changed a couple things. I diced up 6 pcs of thick pepper bacon and fried it in a little butter til crisp then removed to drain on paper towels. Next sautéed a whole chopped sweet onion in the bacon fat. Since I do not have xanham gum I have rice starch (a thickener wheat free & gluten free). I mixed 1 tbs with 1/2 water and microwaved it & stirred it til bubbly. Then added to soup at the end . Also the chopped bacon added to individual bowls is really good!!
    Thank you for your recipe & is perfect for this artic cold Friday on January 3, 2014 in PA!
    Happy New Year😄

    • Suzanne says:

      I’m so happy you liked it. This recipe gets the most hits, by far, but I never know if anyone uses or likes it, so I appreciate the feedback.

      I’m sure any starch thickener (corn, tapioca, rice, etc) would work just fine if you’re not concerned about the carbs, and really, 1 Tbs is not a lot of starch anyway. I’m curious how leftovers worked out. Was the starch enough to keep the cheese and cream from separating when it cooled?

  2. Janet Lee says:

    Thank you!

  3. Meg says:

    I’m a New England transplant to Florida where, believe it not it gets quite cold. I was totally jonesing for some clam chowda, but alas after bariatric surgery and on a low carb diet, the thought of a traditional clam chowda was out of the question. I literally googled for a recipe while at the grocery store and picked up all the ingredients. With a bit of skepticism, I proceeded with the chowda – OMG! I ended up making a fish chowda with the clams, alaskan salmon and flounder. The taste, smell and texture was spot on. I did add a touch of Old Bay seasoning when I served it to add some color. The following night I also added some asparagus tips for a bit more color. Really, this is Cream of Anything Chowda as some many different things could be added to change it up. Great job on this one – this is definately going into the ‘keeper file’

    • Suzanne says:

      It really is amazing how close to “normal” chowder (or chowda) this is. If you didn’t tell people, they wouldn’t know. I make a ham chowder the same way, using ham instead of clams (of course), a little ham bouillon, and herbes de Provence. You can also do cream of broccoli by replacing the water with chicken stock and replacing the celery with some broccoli. You are only limited by your imagination.

  4. Barbara says:

    What are the carb counts for this recipe?

  5. Jodi says:

    Sounds great but wish you listed your carb count. Honestly I’d pick this recipe if it was listed. I just don’t have the time to do the math.

  6. Phillip says:

    Thank You! Thank You!
    After being recently diagnosed with a plethora of food allergies, this is a recipe that tastes fantastic and I don’t have to substitute any ingredients. It is a regular in my recipe box now.

    • Suzanne says:

      I’m so happy you like it. It’s one of my favorites. I’ve recently been advised to not eat dairy, at least for a while, and so I’ve figured out a way to make it with cashew milk and butter that’s also great. Your comment reminds me that I should put it up here so others can try it out.

  7. gh says:

    Why must you make it so hard to read your blog by repeating the silverware motif over and over and over and over and over and over and over and . . . . . . . . . . . .

    • Suzanne says:

      Try making your window larger. Also, I’d just like to point out that I receive no sort of income, perks, or remuneration of any kind from this blog. In fact, I have to pay to keep the simplified address. So, you’re welcome.

  8. geepee says:

    Fabulous! I used scallops instead of clans and also added a pinch of Old Bay seasoning – I always add it to my chowders.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: