Creamy vegan chowder, made vegetarian and clam-free with some sneaky protein ingredients. And, made dairy-free with my famous creamy soup base. Bonus… this vegan clam chowder is totally mushroom-free.
My qualifications for presenting you with this fabulous vegan chowder recipe are that: 1) I live in one of the seafood capitals of the country, and 2) one time my parents took me on a trip to New England when I was a kid and apparently all I ate the entire time was clam chowder. Yup, former favorite food.
Was it the clam part that I liked! NO! I like the super creamy, savory broth, thickened by a seriously over-the-top roux and practically begging for broken-up saltine crackers. Turns out, all of the things I liked about the original are easy to make in meatless, dairy-free form AND healthier! Easy decision.
You know it, you love it. My go-to creamy soup base, used in my vegan wild rice soup, creamy vegan broccoli soup, and vegan broccoli cheddar soup… it’s back again to form the backbone of this amazing dairy-free chowder. You’ll undetectably be enjoying a rich and savory blend of cashews, Russet potato, and white beans.
Because it evokes the flavors of the sea, without the flavors of its creatures, I seasoned my vegan clam chowder liberally with Old Bay. I have Old Bay in stock at all times. You can also use a mixture of celery salt (or ground celery seed) and paprika if you can’t easily procure Old Bay.
I’ve seen a lot of vegetarian chowder recipes that use oyster mushrooms, and this won’t be one of them. I did rack my brain thinking about other foods with a similar… “squeaky” quality and I realized the solution had been in my fridge all along. It’s yuba.
Also known as tofu skin, yuba is a byproduct of making soy milk; it’s extremely protein rich and also rather slippery and squeaky. I took a package of yuba and cut it into little squares and simmered it in my vegan chowder for a strangely clam-like effect.
The remaining important ingredients here are celery and red potatoes. And because I wanted to make this vegan chowder a little bit special, I spiked it with a little bit of cognac, which is tradition in some New England circles. You can use any brandy, a dry white wine, or just skip the alcohol entirely, although I do recommend it!
I hope you enjoy this clam-free vegan chowder! If you make it, let me know in the comments or tag me on Instagram (@yupitsvegan). Bon appetit!
Old Bay Clam-less Vegan Chowder
Creamy vegan chowder made with protein-packed yuba instead of clams! Packed with flavor from Old Bay seasoning, cognac and more. This recipe may look to have a lot of ingredients, but many of them are pantry staples. The creamy and flavorful end result is worth it!
For the cashew cream mixture:
For the vegan chowder mixture:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 2 ribs celery diced
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 and 1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning (see note)
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 and 1/2 cups diced red potatoes (skin on) (about 3 potatoes)
- 3 tbsp cognac or brandy (see note) (about 50ml)
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 5 oz yuba sheets (see note) rinsed and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley divided
To prepare the cashew cream:
Rinse and drain the soaked cashews, and add them to a blender along with the cooked potato, white beans, miso, and nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth, adding a little bit of water if needed to blend. Set mixture aside.
In a soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and celery, and stir well. Cook until both are softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for another 30 seconds.
Stir in the Old Bay seasoning, ground black pepper, and diced potatoes. Cook for about 2-3 more minutes, stirring frequently. Deglaze the pan by adding the cognac, stirring well, and scraping around the bottom of the pan for any stuck pieces. If you're not using alcohol, do this same thing with a small splash of the vegetable broth.
Add all of the vegetable broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and stir in the yuba pieces. Continue to cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 more minutes. Stir in the cashew cream mixture, and simmer until hot. Finally, stir in the vinegar and half of the chopped parsley.
Taste for seasoning (especially salt and/or Old Bay). Serve hot, garnished with more chopped parsley, and crackers, bread, or other accompaniments of choice.
OLD BAY SEASONING: Old Bay is a great all-purpose seasoning. It's evocative of eating seafood because of the specific spices used, but contains no fish products. If you can't get Old Bay, the next best substitute is a mixture of celery salt with paprika. If you can't get celery salt either, just use a pinch of paprika and make the recipe without it.
ALCOHOL-FREE: Feel free to use white wine instead of the cognac or brandy, or even just skip the alcohol entirely and use vegetable broth to deglaze the pan.
YUBA: I buy the refrigerated kind of yuba that is already hydrated. If you can only get dried yuba, rehydrate it to make 5 oz before using. If you can't get any yuba at all, baked tofu cubes or cooked chickpeas are both nice in this recipe.
VARIATIONS: This recipe is also lovely with seasonal veggies added, such as fresh corn, broccoli, or asparagus. For quick-cooking vegetables, add them with the cashew cream. For anything that needs to cook longer, add it with the yuba.
Love this creamy vegan chowder? Then you’ll also love my other vegan creamy soups: