One of the hardest parts of being a new vegan (or even an old seasoned vegan) is trying to keep up with all the new products out there. I must have spent over $50 looking for the "right" vegan cheese my first year being a vegan and I have over 50 vegan/vegetarian cookbooks in my arsenal but not all the recipes are the greatest. I’m the first born so I’m used to being a Guinea Pig and now I’m your Vegan Guinea Pig. So here are my recommendations and critiques. Let me know what you think!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Clam-Free Chowder (New England Style)

The January-February issue of VegNews features a New England Style Clam-Free Chowder in it’s “Veganize It” column. I was never one for seafood but back in undergrad when I used to work at a Red Lobster I learned to tolerate some things and Clam Chowder was one of them (although I usually tried picking out all the clams).

The VegNews recipe contains very simple ingredients that can be found at most grocery stores (although oyster mushrooms are usually found at specialty stores or Whole Foods). I was able to get my hands on some dried oyster mushrooms for only $2.99 so in total this was a pretty economical meal for me. Also if you use canola or olive oil instead of Earth Balance you have a soy free and gluten free dish (but don't quote me on that, please double check for yourself if you have allergies). I changed the recipe just slightly to fit my taste by reducing the oyster mushrooms, salt, bay leaf and cooking time. I also slightly upped the amount of garlic. As written the instructions didn’t give you a place to add the water that is listed in the ingredients so I took the liberty of adding that in as well. Here’s the recipe I used to make this delicious chowder.

2 tablespoons Earth Balance, divided
½ cup oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped*
½ cup raw cashews
2 cups vegetable broth, divided
2 cups water
½ cup yellow onion, diced
1 ½ cups cauliflower, cut into florets
1 clove garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon white pepper
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 ½ cup Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
¼ teaspoon hickory liquid smoke

In a skillet over medium heat, sauté 1 tablespoon Earth Balance and oyster mushrooms for 5 minutes and the set aside.(If using rehydrated oyster mushrooms then omit this step).

In a blender, grind cashews to a fine powder, then add 1 cup vegetable north. Blend until completely smooth.

In a medium stockpot over medium heat add 1 tablespoon Earth Balance, onion, cauliflower and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add bay leaves, thyme, white pepper, remaining vegetable broth, cashew mixture and salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low heat and cook for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf.

Using an immersion blender or regular blender, blend until completely smooth. If using a traditional blender add soup back to pot over medium heat. Stir in water until completely combined. Add potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes become tender stirring occasionally. Stir in liquid smoke and oyster mushrooms. Serve hot.


  1. Thanks for sharing the recipe! It's been ages since I've had anything like this and it sounds great.

  2. I make something similar without the cashews using soy milk/tofu.

    Try adding some sea vegetables chopped up (doesn't matter what kind) early in the recipe to give more "fishy" flavor. I've also soaked tvp chunks or granules in hot water WITH the sea vegetables for that extra taste.

    Nice recipe, though! Best, Mark

  3. I just discovered oyster mushrooms when i used them to make a vegan scampi! glad to see they can mask as clams too.

  4. I made this for dinner tonight and it was blinking yum! I added some Sweetcorn to mine and though I've never had Clam Chowder before so I have nothing to compare it to - it doesn't need comparing to anything - it was DELICIOUS!
    Thanks for the recipe.

  5. My husband and I are both from New England, and although I never actually ever ATE clam chowder when I lived there, he did and has missed it more than anything in his 30+ years of vegetarianism. So I decided to make this.... and we both loved it! He wasn't sure it tasted like the clam chowder he remembered, but on the other hand, he's not sure he even remembers!


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