March 31, 2013

Healthy Meal: New England Veggie Clam Chowder

Despite it being almost April, this afternoon I felt a bit of a chill in the air due to some impending rain – and I found myself desperately craving clam chowder. Clam chowder is usually a pretty unhealthy dish, thanks to the potatoes and heavy cream, but I have a ton of Chobani Greek yogurt in the fridge – surely that could be used to thicken it? I drew inspiration from about a dozen online recipes (most notably Rocco DiSpirrito’s and one from the Cliff House restaurant in Maine), and came up with the following recipe that incorporates lots of veggies and results in a huge bowl of thick, creamy ctrowder for just a fraction of the calories in your typical chowder (2.5 cups of this for 260 calories vs a puny 1.5 cup serving of Panera’s New England Clam Chowder for 630 calories). That leaves plenty of room for some crusty bread or even some saltines or oyster crackers, if you so desire! Plus, it’s pretty easy to whip up in about 15-20 minutes – excellent.

Low Cal New England Veggie Clam Chowder
Makes three servings of 2.5 cups

Olive oil
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1/2 large white onion
2 cups cauliflower florets
1 cup mushrooms
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 stalks celery
1 15-ounce can of whole clams and their juice
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp dill
1/2 tsp tarragon
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp basil
1 tsp sage
1 tsp rosemary
1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt

Mist the bottom of your pot with olive oil, then add the chopped garlic. Dice and add the onions, and saute for three minutes. In the meantime, dice your mushrooms and prep your cauliflower. After the onions and garlic are getting a nice color, add the cauliflower, mushrooms, and milk. (I use unsweetened almond milk because I travel so much and I can keep it in the pantry without it going bad, but feel free to use skim milk instead.) Chop the celery, then add to the pot as well, which should by now be at a boil. Cover and simmer for 2 minutes.

Drain the clams, collecting the juice in a bowl. Whisk the cornstarch into the bowl with the claim juice. Use the colender to pour the clam juice/cornstarch mixture into the pot, to ensure that no stray lumps of cornstarch get through, and then stir to combine. Cook for another two to three minutes to thicken.

While the soup is thickening, add all your spices. (If you’re missing any, no big deal to omit what you don’t have.) Next, add the clams and taste test, adjusting the spices as needed for complex flavor. Finally, turn the heat off and stir in your Greek yogurt (you don’t want it to cook/curdle), and finish off with some salt/pepper. (Use white pepper instead of black pepper if you want it to look prettier, but with all the other spices, it really doesn’t matter that much.) For garnish, you can add chives, chopped scallions, or even a little hot sauce – and of course, your bread/Saltines/oyster crackers. Enjoy!


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