A couple of weeks ago, my local Whole Foods had a huge 25% off sale on all frozen foods. It was just for a couple of hours on a weekend morning but we made sure to stop by and stock up on some staples like frozen veggies, fruits and ice cream (staples right?). After checking out the frozen seafood, I quickly grabbed a couple of bags of wild-caught, sustainable shrimp and clam meat.
I knew I had at least a couple of containers of Homemade Shrimp Stock in the freezer and the idea of making a summer chowder implanted into my head. I love summer soups, specifically creamy and rich chowders dotted with chunks of tender potatoes and perfectly cooked shellfish.
Many years ago, before we were married, my husband and I vacationed in Maine with our dog. We road tripped all over the coast and I ate way more than my fair share of New England Clam Chowder and farm stand blueberries. Not a bad trip, right?
This Shrimp and Clam Chowder is a riff on the classic I enjoyed during that vacation but dairy free and thickened with a combination of pureed potatoes (cooked in the broth) and a bit of full-fat coconut milk, just enough to give the soup a nice rich, silky texture but not enough to make it taste like coconut!
The real secret to here is the Homemade Shrimp Stock. It makes it! If you think this soup looks good, tuck it away or print it off until you can make some shrimp stock. I am telling you, it won’t be the same without it!
- I didn’t include salt and pepper amounts because the salt will vary significantly based on the quality and salinity level of the stock you use. For this recipe, go slowly and salt and pepper to taste. I also like to finish each bowl with a nice turn or two of freshly cracked pepper when serving.
- I used Extra Jumbo Shrimp (size 16/20 per pound) because that is what I had in my freezer. You do not need to buy shrimp that big (or expensive!). I recommend anything larger than medium. Whatever size you go with, once they are cleaned and deveined, cut them into 1″ pieces.
- I used frozen clam meat for the bulk of the clams. I think canned clams would work. Just try to get a good brand that only has clams, clam juice and salt. Note that if you use canned clams, they may be salty so keep that in mind when salting the broth.
- A great online resource for ordering sustainable seafood is Vital Choice.
- Serving Size and Points Plus are Based on 1 Heaping Cup which is a perfect starter size or could be paired with a big salad for lunch. For a larger portion size (dinner portion), it would be 14 Points Plus Per Serving and 6 Servings at 2 Heaping Cups Per Serving. Again, I would pair with a big green salad.
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Dairy Free Shrimp and Clam Chowder
- 1/2 pound uncooked bacon cut into 1/2" cubes if slab or 1/2" pieces if strips
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil OR pastured butter if dairy is OK
- 1 large sweet onion finely chopped
- 2 medium stalks celery finely chopped
- 2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 8 cups homemade shrimp stock
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper see NOTES
- 1 pound large or larger - see NOTES shrimp, peeled, deveined and cut into 1" pieces
- 1 pound fresh clams in shell, scrubbed clean
- 10 ounces frozen clam meat or canned - see NOTES, defrosted
Cube or slice bacon. Finely chop onion and celery (I used food processor to save time!).
Grab a large bowl and fill with cold water. Peel potatoes and place into water. Cut each potato into 1/2" cubes and place back in water until ready to use.
Peel and devein shrimp and cut into 1" pieces. Scrub clams and place in a bowl with ice until ready to use.
Make sure frozen clams are defrosted, measure coconut milk and grab bay leaves.
Heat a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add bacon and 2 ounces (1/4 cup) of water. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, until water is evaporated and bacon begins to brown.
Add butter (or olive oil), onion, celery and a pinch of salt. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, about 4 to 6 minutes.
Drain cubed potatoes from cold water and add to pot along with bay leaves and shrimp stock. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook 18 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
Taste broth and season with salt and pepper. Make sure to go lightly as the flavor will change a bit when you add the fresh shellfish in (especially if using canned clams!).
Remove bay leaves and discard. Transfer 2 cups of (mostly) potatoes and broth to a blender. Combine with 1 cup coconut milk until completely smooth and set aside.
Bring broth back to a boil. Once boiling, add whole clams in shells, shrimp pieces and clam meat. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and cook 2 to 3 minutes until clams are opened and shrimp is pink.
Remove from heat and slowly pour in potato-coconut milk mixture from blender, stirring constantly to incorporate. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot and Enjoy!