Vegan New England Clam Chowder

If you’ve ever craved a hearty, creamy, genuine New England clam chowder recipe—only vegan—then the wait is over.

vegan New England Clam Chowder

For me, fresh New England clam chowder—on the Cape or the Vineyard, with clams fresh off the boat—makes me feel like some kind of fisherman’s wife, tucking in to a bowl of chowder on a cold New England night.

When coming up with this recipe, I Googled more phrases than I thought imaginable. Searches for ‘clam chowder’ kept resulting in these awful red-tinted bowls that were nothing like the clam chowders of my childhood. I went with a recipe that I thought would produce good results, but it still wasn’t thick and creamy enough for me.

Eventually I made up my own.

As far as I can tell, this is New England (Boston) Clam Chowder.

New England because it’s, well, actually clam chowder and doesn’t use a tomato base, and Boston because it doesn’t have a bunch of vegetables and whatnot in it. Feel free to throw in carrots or whatever you have around, though—I won’t tell anyone.

To me, this recipe—sans the obvious vegan inclination—is just clam chowdah as it should be, and anything else is an ersatz.

vegan New England Clam Chowder, with some freshly cracked black pepper, kosher salt, and generous parsley garnishes

digression Sherry keeps very well and is great to have in your fridge for a glass here and there. If you don’t have a bottle in your fridge, then head over to The Wine Bottega right now and get one (and say hi for me!). Raise a glass to Eddy. /digression

Anyway, enjoy! I felt like I deserved a vegan gold medal or something once I made this—it’s awesome.

Updated 21 Feb 2011.

Vegan New England Clam Chowder Recipe

By M. M. Cassidy Published: January 14, 2011

  • Yield: 6-8 Servings
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 25 mins
  • Ready In: 1 hr 10 mins

Thick, creamy, and full of things that taste just like oysters… Serve with crusty bread, the same wine as used in the dish, or a nice dark beer on a cold winter’s night.



  1. Dice the potatoes (optionally peel), then just cover with cold water in a pot and bring to a boil. Boil until knife-tender (still somewhat firm), then drain.
  2. To make the kombu dashi, place the kelp in a small pot with 1 c water. Let sit for about half an hour, and then turn the heat on low. When just starting to boil, turn the heat off and let cool. (It should look like a swamp monster.) Strain and reserve the liquid to use—don't throw the kelp into your vegan clam chowder.
  3. In a medium saucepan, sauté onion in EB until translucent.
  4. Add the garlic and celery or celeriac and sauté briefly, taking care not to burn the alliums.
  5. Season very lightly with thyme, rosemary, or other herbs, salt, pepper, and dulse (or nori). (As you cook, continue tasting and seasoning your chowder.)
  6. Add a wine glass of dry white wine or sherry and the bay leaves and turn the heat to low.
  7. Pour the other glass of wine for yourself and sip occasionally.
  8. Meanwhile, in a large pot, melt 1/3 c butter. Once melted, turn the heat to low, add the flour, and whisk constantly for a few minutes—taking care not to burn—until a roux forms. It should be smooth, slightly toasted, and nutty-smelling.
  9. Add the sauté and sherry mix from your saucepan to the roux and stir to combine.
  10. Add the kombu dashi and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  11. Reduce heat, add the mushrooms and the soy creamer, and simmer for 5-10 minutes, or less if mushrooms are becoming too tender (you want them springy like oysters).
  12. If chowder is too thick, add soy creamer and kombu dashi (1/4 c and 3 T respectively) until desired consistency is achieved. Here, however, if you can't stand a wooden spoon in it, then it's not thick enough.
  13. Garnish with nutmeg and parsley (or chives) and tuck in!

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