A super-rich and creamy New England style clam chowder that’s dairy-free, Whole30, and paleo. This healthy Whole30 soup is loaded with potatoes, bacon, clams, and a crazy good cashew cream sauce. So easy, cozy, and filling!
Healthy Whole30 Clam Chowder
Who here is a fan of rich and creamy soups that are filling and nourishing and uh, bacon? Is bacon an adjective?
It is now, sister.
This New England style clam chowder is something of a miracle: it’s a Whole30 soup and super healthy, but it’s as delish as the classic seafood chowder I grew up with. The secret?
Cashew cream is 100% the trick to turning paleo or Whole30 soup recipes into rich dishes that could rival the unhealthiest of counterparts. It shocks me every time, still! I stir it in thinking, Well, this looks good. And then I take a bite and have to resist the urge to slap whoever’s closest to me. Could be my husband… could be my toddler, could be my baby.
Whoever it is, they’re this close to getting slapped, because I’m that positively thrilled by my cashew cream skills.
Oh, and bacon. Bacon is the secret to this easy and healthy clam chowder, too.
Why this healthy creamy Whole30 clam chowder is so good:
- Have I mentioned it’s insanely rich and creamy? Because it’s insanely rich and creamy.
- With potatoes and plenty of clams, it’s filling and a meal in and of itself.
- It’s really quite easy and comes together in a little more than 30 minutes.
- It’s totally dairy free, and it’s Whole30 and paleo, too!
Variations on this healthy creamy clam chowder
- Substitute cauliflower florets for the diced potatoes.
- If you’re not on any sort of diet, feel free to use 3/4-1 cup of half-and-half or heavy cream in place of the cashew cream. Make sure you leave out that extra 1 cup of chicken broth if you do!
- If you’re allergic to cashews, try 2 cups of coconut cream in place of the cashew cream. Coconut cream is just the white solid part of a can of full-fat coconut milk. Again, make sure you leave out both the cashews and extra 1 cup chicken broth if you use this substitution.
What you’ll need for making this paleo clam chowder:
If you’re like me and your busy life only allows for grocery hours as opposed to whole grocery days, take the easy route with me and order your ingredients from Thrive Market!
Guys, if you’re serious about your paleo/whole30/simply healthy kinda diet, you’ve got to check out Thrive Market.
The prices are fantastic, at 25-50% below traditional retail prices, and don’t even get me started on the time you save! Easier + cheaper = a total no-brainer in my book.
For this clam chowder recipe, these are the ingredients I order from Thrive Market:
- Sugar-free Bacon ( I get it as part of this Meat Sampler, which has literally all of my favorites)
- Chopped garlic (forever goodbye to stinky garlic fingers)
- Bar Harbor Clam Juice and their chopped clams
- Himalayan sea salt and oranic black pepper
How do you make healthy creamy clam chowder?
It’s easy! Start by pouring very hot or boiling chicken stock over some raw cashews, then set this mixture aside.
Next, crisp up your sliced bacon in a saucepan, then remove the bacon bits with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper-towel-lined plate. Pour out all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease, then sauté your onions and celery over medium heat until softened and the onions are translucent. This will take about 5 minutes. Stir in your garlic and, stirring constantly, cook for 30-60 seconds or until fragrant.
Sprinkle the arrowroot powder over this veggie mixture and stir well. Then, pour in 1 1/2 cups chicken broth and whisk until smooth and arrowroot are incorporated. Add in the potatoes, clam juice, and the bay leaf and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 15 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through and fork tender.
In the meantime, pour your cashews and the chicken broth you soaked them in into a high-speed blender. Blend until completely smooth, then scrape this mixture into your saucepan. Stir well and add your undrained clams, plus lots of salt and pepper. Simmer for another couple minutes then ladle into serving bowls. Top with crisp bacon and sliced chives.
Are white potatoes paleo?
I mean, we can debate it if you want, but I eat them as part of my paleo diet. Ever since the founders of the Whole30 gave them the a-OK, I figured I was good to go there. If you don’t eat white potatoes, though, you can substitute cauliflower florets for them in this recipe. You won’t need to simmer this healthy Whole30 soup as long if you do; try 10 minutes instead of 15.
Other recipes you’ll love:
- Healthy Zuppa Toscana (Whole30, Paleo, Dairy Free)
- Instant Pot Healthy Chicken Pot Pie Soup
- Perfect Whole30 Instant Pot Tomato Soup
- Whole30 Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla-Less Soup
- Cheesy Vegan Broccoli Soup
Creamy Clam Chowder (Whole30, Paleo, Dairy Free)
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 2 ½-3 cups chicken broth divided
- 6 slices bacon sliced
- 1 medium white onion chopped
- 2 stalks celery chopped, leaves discarded
- 2-3 cloves garlic minced
- 3 tablespoons arrowroot powder
- 1 pound red potatoes
- 1 cup clam juice
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 6.5-ounce cans chopped clams undrained, 19.5 ounces total
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- fresh chives thinly sliced, for garnish
- Place cashews in a medium heatproof bowl. In a saucepan bring 1 cup of chicken broth to a boil, then pour over cashews. Set aside.
- Cook bacon in a medium saucepan until crisp then, using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour all but 2 tablespoons of bacon grease and return saucepan to stove over medium heat.
- Add the onion and celery to the saucepan and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds. Sprinkle arrowroot starch over and stir until well combined.
- Pour in 1 1/2 cups chicken broth and whisk until smooth. Add the potatoes, clam juice, and bay leaf to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until potatoes are cooked through and tender about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make your cashew cream: pour chicken broth-cashew mixture into a high-speed blender and blend until completely smooth. Pour cashew cream, clams, and plenty of salt and pepper into saucepan and stir. Add the extra 1/2 cup of chicken broth, if desired, to thin. Return to a simmer and cook a couple of minutes or until flavors are melded.
- Ladle into serving bowls and top with bacon and chives.
- If you don’t have a high-speed blender, a regular blender will work fine, since you’ve soaked the cashews in hot chicken broth. Just make sure to not skip that step!
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Cheryl Malik is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind the healthy, flavorful, family friendly recipes at 40 Aprons. She’s been a blogger for 10+ years and is known for her delicious recipes and detailed recipe instructions. Cheryl is a mom of three who lives in Memphis, TN.