Best vegan clam chowder soup with oyster mushrooms, golden potatoes and cashew cream in a kombu seaweed broth. The ultimate Boston style clamless chowder recipe from scratch, thick and creamy, easy to make, gluten and dairy free! + Video.
Vegan Clam Chowder
Kombu Veggie Stock
The rich umami oceany seafood flavor in this chowder comes from a simple kombu stock I make. Basically dehydrated strips of kelp i keep in a jar in my pantry at all times. Kombu makes an amazing miso broth as well for an ultimate bowl of miso noodle soup.
Seaweed and algae are perfect for adding that oceany flavor to any dish and replicating the seafood flavor without any chemicals like I did in this hearts of palm ceviche, no tuna chickpea salad + spaghetti aglio e olio. Alternatively you could crumble some toasted seaweed on top of your bowl before serving.
I find the oyster mushroom medley ideal for this recipe, however shiitakes, maitakes, enoki or hen of the woods make great substitutes as well. If none of the above are available just use chopped up white button mushrooms.
About the Potatoes
My favorite potatoes for soups and chowders are Yukon gold. Not only are they really delicious but their skins are very thin so there’s no need to peel them therefor no waste. They also have a waxy but buttery texture and hold their shape together nicely during cooking providing nice texture to your pot of soup.
Tips for Creamy Dairy Free Chowder
- The silky creaminess of this chowder comes from the homemade cashew based heavy cream. You just stir it in and it’s simple perfection.
- If you prefer an even thicker chowder at this point, simply puree about 1/4 to 1/3 of the soup in a blender until super creamy then mix it back in with the rest. The potato cashew cream mix is divine, no need for flour or other thickeners.
- Where can I find kelp, dulse flakes or kombu ? Most major grocery stores should have them in the same island with all the seaweed and soy sauce. The fresh sea veggies packed in salt are usually in the refrigerated section next to the kelp noodles and tofu. You can also order them online from Amazon.
- Can I use coconut cream instead of cashew cream ? You most definitely can but the coconut flavor is definitely present and noticeable. If you want that authentic chowder flavor I strongly suggest sticking with the easy cashew cream from the recipe card, thickening the broth with flour or using a store bought plant based cream instead like the Silk brand.
- What can i substitute for mushrooms in the chowder? If mushrooms aren’t your thing feel free to replace them with chopped up hearts of palm, one 14 oz can should be enough. Alternatively I would use cooked chopped soy curls, they have a nice meaty texture made from whole soy beans and absorb whatever flavor you want to give them.
- Is clam chowder vegan? Only if it doesn’t contain the actual mollusks aka clams. Since this recipe features oyster mushrooms (or hearts of palm) and only plant-based ingredients you are totally good to go.
- What is the difference between Boston, New England and Manhattan chowder? What differentiates these three chowders is mostly the broth. The Boston broth is thick and creamy like the recipe below, the New England Rhode Island broth is a thin more clear kind of broth, while the Manhattan features a red tomato based broth.
- On Storage – Since this is a dairy-free soup it can be store in the refrigerator up to a week. It also freezes well up to 5 months in freezer proof lidded containers. Remember to thaw out in the refrigerator before reheating.
- What to serve with ? oyster crackers, crispy smoky tempeh bits or fakin’ bacon, vegan caesar salad, homemade crusty bread, garlic bruschetta, dinner rolls.
How to Make Vegan Clam Chowder from Scratch
- Start by making a homemade stock with the secret ingredient: Kombu or your favorite seaweed!
- Prepare the cashew cream and refrigerate until needed.
- Saute the oyster mushrooms with thyme and a little bit of white wine until wilted.
- Cook the celery and potatoes with the herbs and spices in the homemade veggie broth until tender, stir in the cream.
- If you prefer your chowder to be thicker at this point just puree about 1/4 of it and mix back into the chowder. Add the mushrooms to the soup, adjust seasoning and enjoy sprinkled with some crumbled toasted nori seaweed on top!
Vegan no Clam Chowder
- 8-10 oz oyster mushrooms medley
- 4 cups golden potatoes cut into small dice
- 1/2 yellow onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic grated ( or 1 tsp garlic powder)
- 1 stalk celery diced
- 10 sprigs thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 tbsp dry white wine
- 4 cups kombu veggie stock (see recipe below)
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast optional
- chives or scallions for garnish
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 cup hot water
- If making your own stock start by bringing all the stock ingredients to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer away until the stock has concentrated and reduced to 4 cups. Strain and set aside or refrigerate until needed. (it can be made a couple of days in advance if needed). Alternatively feel free to use a store bought veggie broth and add some dulse flakes or any seaweed to it to create that ocean flavor.6 cups water, 2 stalks celery, 1 carrot, 1 leaf bay, 2 strips dried Kombu, 3 tsp dulse flakes, 1/8 tsp turmeric
Make the Cashew Heavy Cream
- Rinse the cashews well then transfer them to powerful blender and cover with the hot water. Allow to soak while you work on the chowder. Just before the chowder is ready make sure to come back and puree until smooth and creamy.1 cup raw cashews, 1 cup hot water
- In a medium size stock pot add a splash of water or a little drizzle of olive oil (omit the oil for WFPB & Plantricious diets) and sautee the onion with a pinch of salt until translucent.1/2 yellow onion
- Add the garlic, oyster mushrooms and half of the fresh thyme and toss to coat well. Sprinkle with a tiny pinch of sea salt and hit it with the white wine. Cook until the mushrooms have wilted and the wine has evaporated. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm.8-10 oz oyster mushrooms medley, 3 cloves garlic, 10 sprigs thyme, 3 tbsp dry white wine
- In the same pot you cooked the mushrooms add the diced celery, diced potatoes, bay leaf, the rest of the thyme, onion powder, nutritional yeast and veggie kombu broth. Season to taste with sea salt and bring to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes and celery have softened. Discard the bay leaf and thyme sprigs if they are woodsy.4 cups golden potatoes, 1 stalk celery, 1 bay leaf, 1 tbsp onion powder, 1 tbsp nutritional yeast, 4 cups kombu veggie stock
- Stir in the cashew cream. At this point if you would like your chowder to be thicker simply transfer 2 or 3 ladles of the soup into the blender and puree until smooth. Add it back into the pot and combine.
- Add the sautéed oyster mushrooms into the chowder and adjust seasonings. Serve hot garnished with fresh thyme, chives, crumbled toasted seaweed + crusty bread or oyster crackers on the side.chives or scallions
- Make Ahead - Both the cashew cream and Kombu stock can be made a couple of days in advance.
- Swaps - If you aren’t a fan of mushrooms you can still make this chowder using chopped up hearts of palm instead.
- Seafood Flavor - you can bump up the seafood flavor with more dulse flakes or sprinkle some crumbled toasted seaweed on top to your liking.
- Add Miso - If you want to get a little fancy you can add in some dissolved white miso paste at the very end.
- On Storage - Since this is a dairy-free soup it can be store in the refrigerator up to a week. It also freezes well up to 5 months in freezer proof lidded containers. Remember to thaw out in the refrigerator before reheating.