A week ago New England was thrown into a March snow storm that dumped 1-2 feet (30 – 60 cm) of fresh powder all over the region. Schools were closed, businesses advised people to work from home if they can, and by the time late afternoon rolled around we were all outside digging ourselves out.
As we all know, when it comes to the cold weather and snow storms nothing works faster to melt the chills away than a bowl of hot soup, so given the success of my Jackfruit “Crab” Cakes I decided to veganize a seafood classic, the New England Clam Chowder and see if jackfruit would work in this recipe as well.
For those of you not familiar with the New England Clam Chowder it is a creamy soup built from butter, heavy cream, celery, onions, potatoes, clam juice and clam meat. I had past success in making creamy soups using potato or corn starch as gluten-free thickening agents, and I was pretty sure that they will work here as well. I was interested to see how jackfruit will do as a stand in for clams and felt confident that it will turn out OK.
But how to make vegan clam juice, which is clam broth and a key ingredient in this soup that adds unique flavor evocative of sea and shell fish posed and interesting challenge. I decided to use some Old Bay Seasoning because it worked so well in my “crab” cakes, and for some extra sea flavor I used some seaweed broth. What I did is to soak two sushi nori seaweed sheets in some warm water for 30 minutes, and then pass the mix through a strainer to remove the seaweed and keep just the liquid. That was my “clam juice”, and it worked!
Beside that little neat trick, my one general recommendation is to use a Dutch oven or a similar heavy post with a lid, as the soup does need to simmer for a while. When the soup is done, it is best served fresh with a squeeze of lemon, coarsely ground (cracked) black pepper, a sprinkle of dry basil or fresh parsley, and a piece of bread. There’s nothing better to help you recover from all that snow shoveling!
New England “Clam” Chowder
What you’ll need:
1.5 lbs (700 g) potatoes, peeled and diced
1 can (10 oz, 280 g) young green jackfruit in brine
6 stalks of celery
1 large yellow onion
2 tablespoons garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
3 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 bay leaves
2 sheets of sushi nori seaweed
2 cups hot water
3 cups almond milk
What you’ll do:
- Soak seaweed sheets in 2 cups of hot water for 15-30 minutes.
- While seaweed is soaking rinse and drain the jackfruit and pull the pieces apart to create smaller chunks, roughly the size and shape of chopped clams. Set aside.
- Peel and dice potatoes, onions and celery.
- Spray the bottom of a large Dutch oven, or other heavy pot, with cooking spray and bring up to medium high heat.
- Add onions, garlic and celery and sauté for 3-5 minutes.
- Add potatoes and continue sautéing for another 3-5 minutes.
- Add jackfruit, sprinkle with Old Bay Seasoning, mix well and sauté for another 5-7 minutes.
- While the vegetables are sautéing, run the seaweed through a strainer to remove as much seaweed as possible. You should end up with 2 cups of water that is slightly brown and smells like seaweed. That’s your “clam” juice
- Mix in the starch into the vegetables, and add the “clam” juice, bay leaves, and lemon juice. Bring the soup to gentle boil, mixing occasionally.
- Add almond milk, and keep the soup on gentle simmer for 20-30 minutes. Serve hot, with a squeeze of lemon and a piece of bread.
Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017