Clam Chowder – The Grain-Free and Dairy-Free Way

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May 28, 2015 by Suzanne

Grain-Free, Dairy-Free, Paleo, Low-Carb

My low-carb clam chowder recipe is pretty great, if I do say so myself. It’s the most viewed post I’ve ever made, so obviously there are people out there who can’t eat traditional chowder that are looking for a replacement.

After being diagnosed with Celiac disease, I’ve been advised to avoid dairy for a while, which makes my own recipe unsuitable for me. I’m sure there are other dairy-free people out there in the same boat who have been pining for some chowder like me, but now our wait is over because I’ve devised a way to make it both grain-free, dairy-free, and still fairly low-carb with the help of cashew milk and cashew butter.

However, if you’re allergic to nuts, this is not the recipe for you. Sorry.

If you’re familiar with my other chowder recipe you will note that I’ve plagiarized myself, but I’m not worried since I have no plans to sue.


2 qts 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

1/2 C. Cashew butter, unsweetened – Available in bulk at Winco from the grinder.

1 C Cashew Milk, unsweetened

Salt and white pepper

1-2 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 about 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 the cauliflower is pureed with the water, remove a few cups of the liquid and put it in bowl or large mixing cup and set it aside for now.

Add the celery and sauteed onion (or dehydrated) to the rest of the cauliflower puree in the pot 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 cauliflower chunks 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 and the cauliflower pieces.

This is where you need those few cups of cauliflower puree you set aside earlier. Add your cashew butter and cashew milk to the reserved cauliflower puree and blend it together, preferably with a stick blender or mixer of some kind. I highly recommend you don’t fudge this step because the cashew butter needs some help to blend evenly with the liquid and you don’t want to end up with cashew blobs in your chowder.

Add the blended cashew/cauliflower mixture to the soup and then add salt and white pepper to taste. Personally, I prefer it pretty peppery.

If the chowder looks too thick at this point, you can add in more cashew milk until it’s how you like it.

The last step is to sift in some xanthan gum to add a little thickness and to stabilize the chowder 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 1/2 to 1 tsp. Avoid over-thickening, as it is not as appetizing.


If you divide one pot into 5 servings, each serving is 290 calories and 20g net carbs.

If you divide on pot into 4 servings, each serving is 362 calories and 25g net carbs.


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