Grandma’s New England Clam Chowder

By Jess

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Every bit of my clam chowder recipe will have you thinking that you are in a quaint New England restaurant. Just another reminder that you don't have to sacrifice flavor in order to eat healthy food that is supporting your well-being.


I love this clam chowder! It has tons of fresh vegetables along with plenty of clams and salty pieces of bacon.

Creamy. Thick. Clammy. Bacony.

That’s how you can sum up a yummy clam chowder. But the problem with using a traditional recipe is all of the junk that will muck up your system shortly after you eat it. Loads of butter, heavy cream, white potatoes, and all-purpose flour to thicken it up. Might taste good, but not good for you.


Essentially it needs an overhaul from the ground up when you compare it to a traditional recipe. Of course the clams are ok, and any vegetables that you want to put in it as well, but a traditional recipe uses a thick creamy base that have to be retooled in order to serve our purposes here.

soup base

Clam chowder is one of those soups that I don’t have too often, but when I do I really enjoy it and it was one of the soups I knew I had to perfect if I was going to go with Paleo for the long term.

veggies and bacon

To start this off I go with plenty of fresh clams. The fresher you can get your clams the better. It really does make all the difference in the world and is a much better option than trying to use canned clams.

To make this chowder as irresistible as possible let’s up the ante and use a good portion of bacon in order to give it a savory undertone and to add in an additional texture to keep your mouth interested.

clam chowder recipe

For the vegetables I like to keep things pretty traditional and use some onions, carrots, and celery. The secret ingredient to this recipe is all of the cauliflower that is being used. It’s what gives the chowder its creaminess as well as its thickness without using any cream or dairy. The cool part is you’re getting a big serving of cruciferous vegetables built right into the soup, but it looks, smells, and tastes like a traditional New England clam chowder recipe.

One vegetable that I’ve added in that you generally won’t find in a clam chowder recipe is turnips. Eating Paleo definitely involves trying new things, and expanding your horizons in the vegetable department. Turnips were not something I used to eat but now they make it into my shopping cart on a regular basis. They’re very versatile and nutritious and are perfect for stews like this that are best eaten in cold winter months.

healthy clam chowda

So dig in! This is one chowder you can eat with a fork, but a spoon works way better.


    • 3 pounds fresh clams or 2 10-ounce cans of baby clams, not drained
    • 2 ounces bacon, chopped
    • 2 medium (½ pound) turnips, chopped
    • 1 small onion, diced
    • ¼ cup chopped carrots
    • ¼ cup chopped celery stalk
    • 3 large clove of garlic chopped
    • 1 cup homemade chicken broth or water
    • 4 cups cauliflower florets
    • 1 cup coconut milk
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
    • salt and pepper to taste


  1. If using fresh clams bring 4 cups of water and clams to a boil in a large enough pot over high heat. Cook until clams have opened, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard clams that do not open after 15 to 20 minutes. Remove clams and allow to cool slightly then remove meat from shells (save a few for decoration) and set aside. Strain clam broth by pouring it through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and set aside. Clams and broth can be prepared a day earlier.
  2. Put 4 cups cauliflower florets in a large pot and cover with water and bring to boil over high heat. Cook cauliflower just until tender. Strain and transfer to a food processor or blender. Add 1 cup of coconut milk and 2 minced garlic cloves and blend until smooth.
  3. In a large heavy-bottomed pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until bacon begins to brown. Add celery, turnips, onion, carrots and garlic and bay leaf and sauté, stirring often, for a few minutes. Add clams and clam broth. If using canned clams, do not drain them, just add the juices and all and 3 cups of water. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes or until celery, turnip and carrots are tender. Add cauliflower sauce and mix well. Cook for 5 minutes more. If the chowder is too thick add a little water to get your desired consistency. Discard the bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the chowder among bowls. Garnish with chives and reserved clams and serve immediately.


Serving Size





Total Time

60 minutes

Prep Time

15 minutes

Cook Time

45 minutes

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