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Clam chowder without potatoes?

I'm having people over for dinner and was thinking of starting the meal with a cup of clam chowder (also because it'll go well with the white Burgundy I want to open). But with the main course, I'm going to serve mashed potatoes. So that might be potato overkill, with the potatoes in the chowder...

Has anyone ever made clam chowder with some other vegetable instead of potatoes? Maybe parsnips or turnips?

Any thoughts? Or should I just make some kind of lobster or shrimp bisque?

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  1. clam chowder without potatoes sounds a bit like sacrilege. i think if you don't want to make two potato dishes, definitely try out a different soup.

    1. I'm laughing right now. I thought I was strange, its been in the high 90s to the 100s and been dreaming of clam chowder! But all sound good and would make a terrific starter!

      When I make clam chowder, which I have a few different recipes, my favorite is toI make it on the thick side, with more onion, celery and carrots and very few potatoes. Veggies are cut into a small dice. The soup for me is about the clams and the creamy good stuff. Bacon,and a little bell pepper lots of clam juices and cream and butter, topped with a small bisucit/cracker/and chives. As close as I could get to the original recipe of a small coastal cafe in Oregon (years ago).

      I am thinking that the turnips would overpower the clams...Just a thought.

      1. before this runs completely off the rails with a digression about "what is true chowdah", i think potatoes in the app and on the main is over-kill, yes. can you do a different starch with the entree?

        1. Might I suggest a traditional thick French fish soup instead of clam chowder? I assume, because you're thinking chowder, you're thinking thick and rich, rather than something brothy. The nice thing about this soup is that serving it with rouille-slathered croutons, and grated cheese (gruyere or parmesan), is that they flavours are sharp enough for warm weather. I use whiting, usually. Ingredients: garlic, onion, leeks, tinned tomatoes, fennel bulb, bouquet garni, orange zest, Pernod, salt, pepper, saffron. Water enough to cover. If that sounds good, I'll expand on the technique, if you want.

          1. Without the potatoes it's not chowder, it's a quasi bisque. You could make a nice corn chowder, although that too would be starchy. How about a classic billi bi (mussel soup)? Elegant, easy, delicious.

            8 Replies
            1. re: janeer

              Thanks for all the responses. There are two things that I have to work with or around: 1. my boyfriend really wants me to make "my" mashed potatoes, which he loves, with the entree. 2. I want to open a nice Meursault.

              So, Hungry Pangolin, I like your idea, but I think it'd be too highly seasoned or herbal for the Meursault.

              My other thought was just making clams with cream sauce, shallot and thyme. But then I thought of adding chunks of bacon and I started drifting back to the clam chowder idea...

              Anyone have any good bisque recipes?

              1. re: sjb7501

                If you want clam chowder without potatoes-have it. I won't tell. I make it all the time without potatoes and have never been arrested by the chowder police. Sometimes I add a little corn (is there anything better right now than fresh corn) and it's a delicious chowder, err soup, no uhm chunky bisquesque quasi stew varietal. One thing for sure, it is good to eat.

                1. re: Densible

                  I agree. Make it without potatoes and call it something else. Rachael Ray makes things she calls "stoup"...

                  1. re: mojoeater

                    I third that, except call it what you like. "Potato-free chowder" works. Whether or not you meet some people's restrictions on the definition of chowder is irrelevant.

                    I don't use any salt pork or bacon. I find it heavy and cloying in what is already a strong tasting item. The only reason salt pork is traditional is because it's what they had! Personally, I add a *few* carmelized onions for adding depth without heaviness. My preference.

                    Potatos, none --you decide whether or not it will go well with your wine.

                    1. re: mojoeater

                      no potatoes is fine. i like it with celery, shallot, bacon and fresh corn if it can be had.

                      please don't call it stoup.

                      1. re: mojoeater

                        I believe the very traditional term for such a soup is...clam stew. Chowder by definition is built on potatoes; to have a chowder without potatoes is like having calling a hotdog on a roll a lobster roll.

                        1. re: mojoeater

                          "Stoup" is not chowder. It is too thin to be called stew and too thick to be called soup. Thats the way it was explained to me when I asked a friend what was this "stoup" his wife was fixing for dinner.

                        2. re: Densible

                          Densible, I am going to call the chowder cops right this very minute.

                          Your clams with cream sauce, shallot , corn, and thyme sounds wonderful, so does adding bacon. Sounds like you really want clam chowder. I wonder what you ended up doing.

                    2. Up here in New England, you can be arrested for chowder without potatoes... but pour me a glass of that Mersault, and I'll think twice about it.... :)

                      1. I was thinking what janeer is thinking- adapt a mussel soup recipe to include clams. You can use some of the clams as a thickener, by blending them in with the soup, and then serving some of the clams still whole in the soup, if that makes sense.

                        1. So, yesterday was the dinner. I made the clam chowder with potatoes (just in case they were needed to absorb some of the salt from the clams, or add some other taste or texture) but then removed them at the end. The soup was delicious!

                          Thanks to all those who encouraged me in this act of culinary heresy!

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: sjb7501

                            Bravo, bravo......sjb You stood your ground. You weren't afraid of those Chowder Police lurking. I applaud you!!!!

                            I bet it was delicious and I would have loved to try it. Along with the wine. What did you do with the potatoes by the way?????

                            1. re: sjb7501

                              Oh, that was clever! Well done. As soon as I read that, it reminded me of something. Back in the day when Finns were a poor people, they would reserve the water in which potatoes had been boiled to use as the base for soup.

                              1. re: sjb7501

                                shucks, I'm late with a suggestion but maybe for another time ... there's a vegetable chowder recipe I love that was published in Cooking Light magazine. It uses cauliflower instead of potato. I think clams and cauliflower might make a good combination. Glad your chowder turned out great.

                                1. re: dfrostnh

                                  I am going to try your clams and cauliflower idea. I know all about shellfish and gout, however, recently I read somewhere that cauliflower is also a no-no for people with gout. It may be a double whammy but I'll risk it. Hopefully, I won't over indulge and have to suffer the consequences.

                              2. I'm new to this site, and would love to have the no-potatoes recipe, if anyone is willing to admit they have one. I adore clam chowder, but am violently allergic to white potatoes. My email is hhislope@aol.com. Thanks!

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: HHislope

                                  I say go ahead and make chowder the real way with the potatoes. The star of the show is the clams anyhow. I don't think it will be potato overkill esp if you LIKE potaoes. By the way are we talking Rhode Island, Manhattan, or New England chowder here?

                                  1. re: OrganicLife

                                    On a side note:

                                    Would LOVE to get recipes from folks here for NE and RI clam chowders. Mine never comes out right. I grew up in New England. I feel like a fraud not knowing how to make a killer clam chowder.

                                    1. re: OrganicLife

                                      OrganicLife - OK, so you grew up here, so you must know the difference between a cherrystone, a littleneck, a top neck, and a quahog, right? :) Not that it matters...

                                      I scrub some quahogs, and steam them in about a half inch or so of water... this'll give you some nice clam broth as well as opening the suckers. As soon as they open, remove 'em, let 'em cool, chop them and set aside. I pour the broth into a measuring up so that any grit can settle as I pour the broth off the top later.

                                      OK, now whack off about an inch or so thickness of salt pork, and cube it... render it in your heavy bottom pan, then remove it. Saute a good sized onion, finely chopped in this. When the onions are tender, add the broth.

                                      Peel and small dice a few good sized russet potatoes, and boil them with enough water to cover, and barely a tsp of salt, so that they're underdone, but hot...

                                      Drain the potatoes and add them to the onion/broth mixture.

                                      - OK, here you can add milk or cream... please, no flour...

                                      Grind some black pepper into it. Cool it, put it in the fridge until tomorrow. It will be better then, trust me.

                                      Serve with Crown Pilot crackers, or good bread. A cold Narragansett beer goes well with it.

                                      As you can see, measurements aren't precise... but the result is awesome. If you wish, mash a few of the potatoes into the bottom of the pot as a thickener. Mom used to add a small pat of butter at the end.

                                      1. re: okra

                                        Hey Okra your clam chowder is just like my mother-in-law (from Manchester, Conn) showed me how to make it. I rank New England Clam Chowder right up there with Shrimp and Okra Gumbo even though I am a Louisiana native. How does a Yankee wind up with a handle like Okra???

                                2. Don't tell, but I sub cauliflower for potatoes.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Emme

                                    Ha! I love it- I might have to do that just to see. It sounds good.

                                  2. As with many blogs, opinions are purely conjecture without research.
                                    Chowder does NOT imply potatoes which was too Irish.
                                    Chowder, as many old "pot style" meals, was named for the cooking device. Cauldron or chaudier.

                                    It was originally thickened with stale bread or bisquits.

                                    Information usually trumps that of, "but that's the way my Mother Always made it."

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: JAKKEL

                                      Agreed, original NE chowder was thickened with bread, also original chowder was fish, also original chowder had no milk or cream. So is it _all_ inauthentic?

                                    2. I had a chowder made with sweet potatoes at a shoreline restaurant. Not bad, for a change, but it won't replace the usual recipe.

                                      1. I don't think potatoes in the chowder & mashed potatoes with dinner is overkill at all.

                                        Frankly can't imagine clam chowder with either parsnips or turnips. Neither one would taste correct. And just ain't right.

                                        1. Clam chowder without potatoes would make me cry, sorry.

                                          And just say no to turnips and parsnips. They are bad subs for potatoes in any dish but in chowder they would be so very wrong.

                                          I personally don't see a problem with chowder and mashed potatoes. But then, I love potatoes.

                                          1. OP, please consider mashed cauliflower with the main. And agree cauliflower does work in the chowder as a substitute for potatoes with other veggies but not the same to me. You will find I am not alone as many like potato in chowder, something else is a 'clam soup'. Now you have options.