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Low Carbers/DM Folks and Folks Who Cook For'Em: CLAM CHOWDER

I would like your best lower carb clam chowder recipes.

In my neck of the woods, Legal Sea Foods does a chowder that is clam broth-y, rather than thick with flour and milk. DH thinks it's "meh". He's from the Boston area and for him, "Chowdah" is white.

Here are my wishes:

--I want to eliminate potatoes from the chowder (can I use parsnip?)
--DH does not like cauliflower as a substitute "white veg"
--Don't want to use thickeners if possible (prefer no guar gum; will use maybe a tablespoon of flour if necessary).
--I want this chowder to be as satisfying as possible...a meal on a cold fall night.
--I would love it to incorporate salt pork or bacon, the chowder "taste notes" I remember from my youth.

Fish chowder recipes welcome, too.

BONUS points for this additional query answered: Normally, I'd serve oyster crackers or crusty bread with the chowder. Both are out. Any ideas for a nice side?

Tag, you're it, my friends!

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  1. Parsnip is no better. How about reducing the quantity and subbing rutabaga? Some folks use white turnip, but it has a bitterness to it I wouldn't want. I wonder if jicama would work? Never tried it, but it is low carb and no offensive off tastes, I don't think.

    I looked at a bunch of chowder recipes and made my own from there, but no measurements. Because it's low carb and high calories, I make it with clams, shrimp, scallops and firm fish so it's a very filling meal and with no starch.

    I use whole milk, butter and lots of heavy cream and never need thickeners. If you want it thicker, you can remove some of the sauteed veggies ahead of time, then puree them and add them back in later, but my chowder is very bisque like, with sherry and very thick with no added stuff to thicken.

    If you think it needs crackers, try some LC pita chips you can bake for that purpose.

    1. You know, DH doesn't mind turnip....I could use the white turnip sparingly in the trial run. I'm thinking some shallots and (in the style of your recipe) a lot of seafood. Never would have thought turnip....cool!

      7 Replies
      1. re: pinehurst

        Rutabaga is a bit carbier, but sweeter. Or you could cube some sweet potato, with dinner, it might not spike him at all. I can eat 14/-1/2 of a small one with a protein meal if it's the only significant source of carb. I love white turnip, but I think that sharpness might really mess with the dish. If you use it, be sure to report back. And check out jicama, right texture, no strong taste.

        1. re: pinehurst

          I use turnips and Daikons as potato subs all the time. I don't experience turnips as sharp or bitter at all. I buy them very fresh and fairly small. I describe the taste as "peppery". Daikons tend to be more watery though (when used in soups). I also use low carb thickeners when needed, with soups, heavy cream rarely needs a thickener.

          I serve soups with seedy lower carb crackers and cheese- or make biscuits with carbquick. The cheddar cheese "cheddar bay biscuits" (Red Lobster biscuit clones) are very good with seafood soups.

          1. re: sedimental

            I buy small turnips, too, and they are less sharp, but to say they have no bitterness would be inaccurate, IME. I like bitterness, but it can be too strong for some dishes, IMO.

            1. re: mcf

              Some people find cilantro tastes soapy. I adore it.

              Tasting bitterness in turnips is also a DNA issue ( for cyanoglucosides) It is not a matter of it being "inaccurate" or not. If you don't have the gene, then freely use them like potato. I use them in creamed soups all the time. Rutabega has the same compounds and some people dislike that root veg too. Both are best when very small and always peel them.

              1. re: sedimental

                I know about taste differences, really, I do. I'm just saying that while some of the alternatives are mild with little taste or somewhat sweet and starchy, turnip is pretty universally considered a more bitter tasting root, though some may taste it more strongly than others. "Like rutabaga, turnip contains bitter cyanoglucosides that release small amounts of cyanide. Sensitivity to the bitterness of these cyanoglucosides is controlled by a paired gene. Subjects who have inherited two copies of the "sensitive" gene find turnips twice as bitter as those who have two "insensitive" genes, and thus may find turnips and other cyanoglucoside-containing foods intolerably bitter."

                You're lucky you don't taste it, but for the purposes of this disussion, it might be best to assume that others do, that's all I'm saying. Most do get some degree of the bitterness. I envy you for not tasting it, since they're so low carb, and well drained and blotted, they make a great mash replacement, too.

                Above from wikipedia.

                1. re: mcf

                  I only disagree with you stating that "most" people get some bitterness. That is like saying most people taste soap in cilantro. I don't think that is true. I have only detected a bitterness in a big/older one. The small ones are sweet to me. We will just have to disagree about that ;)

                  Both turnips and rudes are used much more outside the u.s. and it always surprises me how many Americans have never had them before! In my opinion, at their strongest flavor when young, the taste would be more hot or peppery or mustardy ( not bitter) as opposed to the potato that is fairly bland. Of course, all these different flavors should be considered when attempting to sub for something like the potato-that has such a mild flavor. I cut down on black pepper when using these veg or radishes in dishes. I have recently started using red radishes in stews, soups and as potato subs. I really like them! I am not sure why they are not suggested more as potato subs. Cooking/roasting them mellows them out to a huge degree! Roseanne Gold uses them like this.

                  Celeriac root is also something that is good in creamed soups. The only drawback with celeriac for me is the prep. The skin is so tough and the root is difficult to chop and maneuver.....kind of a pain, but I like the flavor.

                  1. re: sedimental

                    Most people do taste some bitterness in turnips. Seems like cilantro is about 50/50 at most, just anecdotally observing. But cilantro is not from a class of soapy herbs, whereas turnips are from a class of bitter root veggies. :-)

                    I'd never had rutabaga or turnup until I ate with my husband's family. Turns out turnips are the one thing my father told my mother he wouldn't ever eat, when they got married, so I'd sometimes wondered what they were in stores, but until low carbing never became acquainted. Now I always have turnips and rutabaga (swede) in winter. My husband hates red radishes, says they taste like dirt. I'm pretty sure they're not from a class of "dirt tasting root veggies." ;-)

                    Celeriac works as the best/mildest substitute in the wonderful potato gratin recipe I've adapted, very mild. But it is a mess to look at and a chore to prep. I like it, too.

        2. This thread is fascinating. I perceive cilantro as very vegetal/soapy tasting, but love all incarnations of turnip.

          Thanks for the celeriac tip. I have an ancient (not really, 1940's) cookbook from my nana, and she used salsify occasionally....oyster plant? Damned if I've seen that in a market (farmers or otherwise) around here.

          1. Pureed celery root is creamy and apparently pretty good nutritionally - http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/v... I think of clam chowder as being flavored with celery seed anyway, but that cuisine is NOT my home cuisine so I could be totally off base!

            1. Sarah, I see you're from the LA area (I think) and that's cool with me...I appreciate all tips. Even though no one in my fam is from Chicago, every Saturday growing up we'd sprinkle a wisp of celery salt on our hot dogs, so a nice note of celery/celery seed is welcome.

              1. My clam chowder recipe does involve pureed cauliflower, but I've served it to many people who had no idea there was cauliflower in it (I'm not a cauliflower fan myself). It gets covered up by the other flavors to the point where it's undetectable, IMO, and it makes the white, thick, creamy chowder I desire!

                I start with frozen cauliflower and boil it with a couple of cloves of garlic (to disguise the cauliflower taste) until it's VERY soft. Drain and puree with a couple of ounces of cream cheese and a little heavy cream and set aside. Brown up some bacon (reserve) and saute a chopped onion in the fat (you could add celery here if you like it but I don't). Drain off any excess grease (if you want) and add the puree and your clams (LOTS), with juice, to the pan. Check the consistency and add more cream/clam juice/chicken broth if desired. Heat through and top with the bacon.

                Obviously, this recipe is missing the chunks of potato that some people love in chowder, but I don't mind - I just use tons of clams and get clam chunks in every bite instead! The cream cheese is untraditional but I find that it really helps cover up the cauliflower taste, without making the soup taste like cheese. A little sour cream in the puree doesn't hurt, either.