Low FODMAP Clam Chowder
As we strive to bring you all your beloved recipes, a Low FODMAP Clam Chowder was on our list. Our version features creamy dairy, plump fresh clams, tender potatoes, crispy bacon, tons of oniony flavor – and it is easy to make.
The timing of developing this recipe was spurred on by a tag-sale find. Behold that crazy looking clam-shaped soup tureen in the images. It came complete with the bowls and little clam-shaped salt and pepper shakers. The moment I saw it, I knew I had to buy it – for $10! What a deal. My friend and neighbor, Mary Glavin, sells collectables on ebay. I told her she could have it AFTER I took pics for our recipe. I mean, it just adds to this recipe, doesn’t it?
Speaking of pictures, you can see my reflection in the soup bowls, wearing my dirty apron, but I didn’t edit them out. Again, part of the charm as far as I am concerned.
New England Clam Chowder
Robin and I grew up in Manhattan. I spent summers in New Bedford, MA, one of the fishing capitals of the world. Manhattan clam chowder is tomato based. Classic New England Clam Chowder is rich with dairy.
While we like all kinds of soups, when it comes to clam, a good ‘ole New England style had to come first. If you hear someone say, “I love clam chowder”, chances are they are talking about New England style.
Our Low FODMAP Clam Chowder is Rich – But Not Too Rich
When you order New England clam chowder in restaurants, it can come prepared in a variety of ways. Some is so thick that a spoon can literally stand upright. Others are thin and usually made with milk, as opposed to half-and-half or cream. Some versions are thickened with flour or cornstarch. Others rely on the potatoes and dairy to provide body.
I am a bit of a purist here and let the lactose-free heavy cream and starchy potatoes do the work, so ours is rich, but not overly thickened.
And you get to use your potato masher: more on that in a bit.
Dairy & Potatoes
The low FODMAP diet is not a dairy-free diet. It is lower in lactose. As mentioned above, whole milk could be used, for a thinner result. Half-and-half will give you a middle ground for richness, and heavy cream will be the richest of all.
In our markets it is easy for us to find lactose-free milk and half-and-half. We do not have access to lactose-free heavy cream. What I do is follow the technique described in our DIY Lactose-Free Dairy article and make my own lactose-free heavy cream!
If you tolerate dairy well, feel free to use conventional heavy cream.
For the potatoes, I like using floury, starchy baking potatoes. They break down a bit, lending further richness and body to the chowder’s texture. You can use Yukon Gold potatoes, if you like, but they do not lend as much starch to the body of the soup. Either choice is fine since potatoes have no FODMAPs!
Sourcing Your Shellfish
If you have never cooked with whole clams, this recipe might seem a bit off-putting. Never fear! Just follow my directions.
First, buy your fresh, in-the-shell clams from a reputable source, either a supermarket with high turnover and someone behind the counter whom you can talk to, or from a specialized fish store. Also, I know that 8-pounds (3.6 kg) seems like a lot, but you need all of them.
Cup Or Bowl?
When I was young and spending summer’s in New England we (always including my Mom and Nana) would go out to eat on occasion. I always wanted the clam chowder as a starter, usually before a big plate of steamers. The question was always cup (smaller) or bowl (larger)?
I usually took the cup, since there was so much other great food to come during that meal. Regardless, the clam chowder was ALWAYS served with little packages of oyster crackers (seen here below).
Now, these type of crackers are wheat based, but as you know the low FODMAP diet is not wheat or gluten-free. In fact, 5 Saltines at 14 g are low FODMAP. These crackers are very similar. If you can tolerate a little wheat, give them a try with your chowder. It will make the experience all the more authentic!
Low FODMAP Clam Chowder
This is a New England style Low FODMAP Clam Chowder to satisfy your soup yearnings!
Low FODMAP Serving Size Info: Makes about 10 cups (2.4 L); serves 8
- 8- pounds (3.6 kg) cherrystone or quahog clams (see Tips
- 2 cups (480 ml) water
- 4- ounces (115 g) thick-cut bacon chopped into small pieces
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon Garlic-Infused Oil, made with vegetable oil, or purchased equivalent
- 3/4 cup (54 g) finely chopped leeks, green parts only
- 3/4 cup (48 g) finely chopped scallions, green parts only
- 1 stalk celery, trimmed and diced
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 2- pounds (910 g) russet baking potatoes peeled and cut into large bite-sized chunks
- 1 large bay leaf
- 2 cups (480 ml) lactose free heavy cream, at room temperature
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
- Snipped fresh chives
For the Broth: Scrub the clams well to remove any grit with cool water. Place clams in a very large stockpot along with the 2 cups (480 mof water. Cover and bring to a low boil over medium heat; after 5 minutes stir the clams with a sturdy wooden spoon to get the ones on top down to the bottom and vice versa. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes more or just until clams open. Timing will vary depending on size of clams; some will open fully while others will only open a tiny bit, which is fine. Remove from heat. If any clams remain shut tight, discard them.
Use tongs to pick the clams up one by one, tipping any captured broth in the shells back into the pot. Place clamshells with clams in strainer. Some clams will have fallen out of their shells into the broth, which is okay. Pick clams out of shells in strainer and place on a cutting board and use tongs to remove any loose clams from broth and place them on cutting board, too. Discard shells. The clams can cool briefly before chopping, while you strain the broth.
Set a wire-mesh strainer lined with a double-layer of cheesecloth over a large measuring cup. Pour broth through cheesecloth; there might be some grit, which you will capture and leave behind. (The grit will be on the bottom of your cup and you can also stop short of pouring out that last grit-filled bit for extra insurance). Set broth aside momentarily.
Chop the clams on the cutting board and refrigerate until needed.
For the Chowder: Wipe out the original stockpot and add bacon. Cook over low-medium heat to render the fat and cook until bacon is crisp. Remove bacon bits and reserve, draining on paper towels. Add butter and oil, chopped leeks, scallions, celery and thyme and sauté gently over low-medium heat for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are soft but not browned.
Taste the strained broth. If it is very strong it will have a very briny, salty flavor, in which case I suggest using part water and not all of the broth. You have to use your taste buds here. Remember that you will be adding cream later, so that flavor will be tempered regardless, but if it is very strong you will know it!
You need a total of 4-cups (960 mof liquid, either all broth or part broth and part water. Add the 4-cups (960 mliquid to the pot along with the potatoes and bay leaf. Cover the pot and bring to a low boil over medium-high heat and cook until potatoes are soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Use the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher to mash some of the potatoes right in the pot. Their starch will add richness to the chowder.
Add the reserved bacon, chopped clams and the cream and heat over low heat until very hot, but do not boil. Taste and add pepper as desired. Soup is ready to serve but improves after it sits for an hour. Serve with parsley and chives sprinkled on top. The un-garnished chowder can be refrigerated overnight and reheated very gently without simmering or boiling; the flavors (particularly the saltiness and clam essencmight intensify, which you can address by adding more water or cream.
- The size clams that you can find might vary and you might come across terms like “littleneck”, “cherrystone” and “quahog” or “chowder” clams. They are all versions of hard-shelled clams and can be used for this chowder; just go by weight when purchasing. We prefer using cherrystones or the larger quahogs/chowder clams; just don’t mix them in your stockpot as they will steam open at different rates.
All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more. For a more detailed explanation, please read our article Understanding The Nutrition Panel Within Our Recipes.
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