Quick Leek and Potato Clam Chowder (Dairy-Free)

My husband is an excellent cook, and he had always planned on wooing his future wife with creamy, New England-style clam chowder. So when he found out while we were dating that I was lactose-intolerant his dreams were dashed. However, determined to produce some type of chowder I could enjoy, he came up with a leek and potato version that has become a wintertime staple in our house. It’s quick and hearty, and enjoyed by both the lactose tolerant and intolerant. Because the ingredients are quite simple, the key to success with this soup is to season in layers and to not overcook the potatoes — they should be tender, but still have some body to them. You can puree this soup if you want it smooth, but I prefer to just mash it with a potato masher, leaving it a bit chunky.

Quick Leek and Potato Clam Chowder (Dairy-Free)

Serves 6


  • 4-5 medium leeks, rinsed and white parts chopped into half-moons (about 6 cups, chopped)
  • 2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 4 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 quart chicken broth, preferably low-sodium
  • 1 10 oz. can baby clams, liquid included
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, sugar, and pepper
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash of Old Bay

Optional garnishes:

  • Chopped scallions
  • Bacon bits*
  • Sour cream


  1. Heat a couple glugs of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onions, celery and garlic and saute until the onions are softened, 2-3 minutes. Season with salt, sugar, and pepper.
  2. Add the leeks in 3 portions, seasoning each batch generously with salt, sugar, and pepper and letting it wilt down before adding the next batch.
  3. When the leeks are softened, add the potatoes, broth, juice from the clams, bay leaves, and thyme. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn to low to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
  4. If you want a smooth soup, puree using an immersion blender or food processor. If you prefer it chunky, use a potato masher to mash the soup to your desired consistency.
  5. Add the clams, Worcestershire sauce, and Old Bay. Taste to check for seasonings.
  6. Serve with optional garnishes, a green salad, and a loaf of crusty bread.

*Note: if serving with bacon bits, I will first fry the bacon until crisp in the soup pot; then use a portion of the drippings to saute the vegetables.

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