This New England vegan chowder is perfect on cold days. It’s made with soy curls, chopped mushrooms, vegan bacon, thyme and potatoes. Cashew cream is added to the rich broth to add some creaminess and it’s perfect served with oyster crackers or fresh biscuits!
I have been waiting for winter weather for three years.
It’s finally here.
Now that we’re back in Boston, I go outside on 30-something degree days, just so I can breathe in the cold air and feel it on my skin. I’ve pulled out my long-forgotten and new-feeling sweaters, and love wrapping them around me. I love the banging of the radiators coming on, and it’s a fair trade-off to have the skin crack around my knuckles as I slather on layer upon layer of lotion, and wrap them around steaming mugs of tea or black coffee. Nimrod is constantly seeking a hot spot, and I love tucking blankets around her and watch her melt into them as she drifts off to sleep, reminding me she’s there with her faint wheezing or a low growl from a kitty nightmare.
The other day as I was flipping through my massive stacks of Food and Wine and Bon Appétit magazines, looking for food inspiration to complement the brisk weather outside, I came across Bon Appétit‘s New England Clam Chowder recipe and thought: what could be better than that right now?
How to make this Vegan New England chowder
Soy curls and mushrooms work together to create a clammy element, while firm Yukon golds provide a heartiness and textural contrast. Cashew cream adds a supreme richness and velvety quality that clings to the spoon (or crackers or bread) and sticks to your ribs.
What are soy curls?
If you’ve never tried soy curls, you’re missing out. They are a delicious and extremely versatile ingredient made from soybeans. They have a texture like chicken but, in this dish, they work great as a substitute for clams. Soy curls are dehydrated which means they last a long time, and need to be reconstituted before using them in a dish. It’s easy to do this in about 10 minutes in a vegetable broth. Once reconstituted, I like to drain them in a fine-mesh sieve, then place another sieve over the top and press to get the moisture out.
Here are some other delicious recipes that use soy curls:
Vegan Buffalo Wings (Hot and Spicy)
Sweet and Sour Crispy Mock Chicken Stir Fry
Serve this vegan chowder with oyster crackers, warmed sourdough or fresh-baked biscuits. These olive oil biscuits from scratch are perfect! Check out these recipes for more soup recipes and ideas!Print
New England Vegan Chowder
- Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings
- Diet: Vegan
This New England vegan chowder is made with soy curls and mushrooms as a stand-in for clams. Cashew cream adds a richness to the broth and vegan bacon, potatoes and thyme pull everything together. This soup is so perfect on a cold day! Inspired by and veganized from Bon Appétit.
for the cashew cream
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in plenty of water overnight, then drained
- 1/2 cup water
- couple dashes of coconut or apple cider vinegar (optional)
for the “clams”
- 1 TB Earth Balance
- 10–12 oz white, brown or oyster mushrooms, destemmed and chopped
- 1 cup Butler Soy Curls
- 1/2 sheet crumbled nori
- 1 TB olive oil
for the broth
- 1–2 TB Earth Balance or refined coconut oil
- 4 strips of tempeh or vegan bacon (I used Sweet Earth’s Benevolent Bacon), chopped
- several dashes of liquid smoke
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
- 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 cups No-Chicken, mushroom or vegetable stock
- 2 cups peeled and diced Yukon Gold potatoes
- 1 TB cornstarch, blended with 2 TB water
- salt and pepper, to taste
- oyster crackers
- fresh biscuits
- fresh thyme, chopped
to make the cashew cream
- Using a high-speed or immersion blender, blend the cashews and liquid together until velvety smooth. Add in a couple dashes of vinegar to counteract the sweetness of the cashews, if desired. Set aside.
to prepare the clams
- Melt the plant-based butter in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until softened, turning down the heat a bit if needed. Transfer to a bowl.
- Add the soy curls and nori to the pot, cover with water. Bring to a boil and turn off the heat, but leave on the burner for about 10 minutes. Allow to cool. Chop into bite-sized pieces.
- Preheat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add a little oil, then the soy curls. Allow to saute, stirring occasionally, until slightly dried out and slightly golden around the edges. Combine with the reserved mushrooms to the side.
to prepare the broth
- Using the same pot, melt 1 TB of the butter or oil over medium heat. Add in the chopped vegan bacon, and allow to saute for a couple of minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low, and add a few dashes of the liquid smoke.
- Add the celery, onion and garlic to the pot, increase the heat back to medium and stir. After a minute, add in the remaining 1 TB of plant-based butter or a few splashes of broth as needed to reduce sticking. Allow to cook for several minutes, until the onion is soft.
- Sprinkle in the thyme, add the bay leaf. Add the stock and potatoes. Allow to come to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are done.
- Bring back to a boil, stir in the cornstarch slurry, and stir until slightly thickened.
- Stir in the reserved cashew cream and mushrooms+soy curls. Heat through, adding in salt and pepper, and a few dashes of liquid smoke if desired, to taste.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hours
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Blended, Sautéed, Boiled, Reconstituted, Chopped
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: vegan chowder, vegan clam chowder, vegan clam chowder recipe, chowder with soy curls
Joni Marie says
It is perfect! I’m making it this weekend. Believe it or not, it’s been in the 40s at night!
Yay! Would love to hear how it works out! Wish you come come over to Boston and we could make it together! xo
This soup looks fantastic. If I don’t use soy curls, is there something I could substitute? BTW….absolutely love your blog. Kee’p ’em” coming!
Hi Deb, Thanks! You can probably just add a blend of mushrooms to replace the soy curls … hope you enjoy.
This chowder is amazing! My mother did not use bacon in her clam chowder, so I considered leaving it out, but then I figured I’m not really trying to recreate what I grew up with–just follow the recipe! And the very first taste really reminded me of clam chowder.
thank you so much.
Heather, I’m so happy you enjoyed! Thanks for your kind feedback.
Nicole R says
I was excited to make this and it was tasty, but very thin. I think I need less broth, so just sharing for anyone else. Maybe start with less and add as needed.
I just made this recipe! I live in New England (Boston) and I’ve been a vegetarian for 15 years but have found myself wanting to embrace a vegan diet. I hate cooking but the cold weather and pictures of this dish prompted me to try… this is soooooo good! It’s what I imagine seafood chowder tasting like! And I love the smoky bacon. I can’t get over how delicious this is!! My household loves chowder so this will become a staple to get us through New England winters. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!!
Yuu, I love to hear that you enjoyed and this inspired you to cook and share it with your family! Thanks for your kind feedback and stay warm during these crazy New England snows!
Isaac Thomas says
Will definitely be giving it a go! The weather is cold here in Israel at the moment so this sounds like a winner!
Peace & Love
Celeste | The Whole Serving says
I have never used Butler Soy Cruls, but I think I’ll be giving it a try very soon. So glad I found your blog.
I’ve been dying to try to make a clam chowder without the clams. I have been making dairy free for years but recently stopped eating all animals 🙂
I had never had the soy curls until last night when I made your recipe. They are really interesting!
My husband and I enjoyed it 🙂 I added a bit more of a few things but all and all it was tasty, especially with Tabasco!
Curious, did you try using any other non-dairy milks like almond or coconut before you decided on the cashew cream?
Thanks for the yummies 🙂
My name got cut off hahaha . Cindy 🙂
Alice Toth says
I had this soup at a holiday party last night and it was amazing! The host had made 3 types of clam chowder and this vegan version was the favorite! Like by vegans and non-vegans alike! It was so good I am bringing it to a Christmas Eve party I am attending. I don’t like mushrooms but I loved this soup! Excellent recipe!
Alice, thanks so much for your very kind feedback, and I am so happy you liked and shared with others! <3
This was the most beautiful, artful, lovingly crafted recipe I’ve ever tried. Replaced soy curls with a splurge of lobster mushrooms and it was unctuous and perfect. I can’t thank you enough for bringing “clam” chowder back into my life. My husband is from New England and you have made the transition to veganism now so much easier for him. Thank you for doing this blog and bringing so much joy to our home. I wish I could hug you myself!
Amalynne, thanks so much for your feedback and I’m so happy you enjoyed the recipe! I would love to get my hands on some lobster mushrooms one of these days. Giving you a big hug from Boston … your comment made my day! <3
Just made this recipe today and it was amazing! I haven’t had clam chowder in over 11 years and this literally made my entire week !
My boyfriend and myself are both vegan and he loved it as well he had about 5-6 bowls today alone!
I had to omit the bacon because i couldn’t find it, my local target normally has it but they were out, and i had to replace the cornstarch mixture with plain white flour because everywhere is currently out of cornstarch
But it still came out super good even with those small hiccups defiantly will be making again !
Thank you !
Jazmine, so happy that you enjoyed the recipe, and were able to tweak and sub some ingredients with success! Stay safe and well.
Loved it but I love all your recipes ☺
Barbara, I’m so happy you enjoyed! xo
I’m going to try this today. Does it freezes well? I want to double this for later enjoyment. But based on other replies it may not make it to the freezer. Lol!
Hi Tanesha, I haven’t tried freezing this, but if you try and reheat with good results, I’d love to know!
OMG it was sooooo good Erin! Made a few slight changes but it only lasted 2 days in my home. So sadly I don’t know if it will freeze well either. lol!
I plan to make it again so I will keep you posted!!
This recipe was really good. As a Boston native, I don’t really recall ever having a classic clam chowder with bacon in it before going vegan tbh, but I was willing to give it a try with the benevolent kind. I was impressed. I think if I were to do the whole thing again, I would probably omit the benevolent bacon and the soy curls. I think the yukon gold potatoes and the mushrooms were the true stars of the show, combined with the cashew cream. Thanks for the creative take on a classic New England treat.
Deb Z says
Really chilly in Southern California. Made this chowder last night. Terrific recipe. I would, next time, boil the soy curls in a vegan broth to up the flavor. Also added some extra spice. Overall, this recipe is worth making. Delicious. Thank you Erin!
Deb Z, I’m really happy you enjoyed the chowder, thanks for your feedback … I hope the weather warms up for you soon!