Ingenious chowder without milk or cream

Organic wines
September 16, 2014
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November 29, 2014

Whether you are lactose intolerant or vegan, it can often be difficult to replace milk or cream in a recipe. Consider chowder. Chowder is a soup based on vegetable broth or fish stock with milk or cream, as is the case with clam chowder, or a simpler broth of vegetables simmered in hot milk or cream, as for a corn chowder. Is it even possible to make a chowder without any dairy products? Of course it is!

So how do we create a creamy texture without cream, while avoiding the pitfalls of a chalky, plastery taste or gluey texture? Please don’t suggest a béchamel made from oil and flour – I won’t do it!

No, the secret trick is to make a creamy, smooth and tasty broth using a combination of white vegetables.

White vegetables? Celeriac, kohlrabi, Japanese turnip or white turnip, leek, or a mixture of all these vegetables.

This idea can also be useful if you want to replace any white sauce of butter, milk and flour. A soup of white vegetables with plenty of added garlic served on pasta, for example, makes for a delicious meal with a convincing taste of fettucine alfredo.



Chowder of white beans and organic vegetables
(makes about 8 portions of 250 ml)

Part I – White vegetable soup as a creamy base

INGREDIENTS (Choose organic and local seasonal ingredients if possible)

  • Olive oil
  • 3 large leeks or onions, chopped
  • 3 kohlrabi, cut in pieces
  • 3 white turnips or Japanese turnips, cut in pieces
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4-6 cups of homemade or commercial vegetable bouillon or water (enough to cover the vegetables)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2-3 sprigs of dill


  1. Sauté leek or onion in oil for 5 minutes over medium heat.
  2. Add white vegetables and sauté 10 minutes more to intensify the flavour. Add salt.
  3. Add the garlic and broth.
  4. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer gently until the vegetables are cooked through and tender.
  5. Blend until creamy.
  6. Add the finely chopped fresh dill to steep and flavour the soup base.
  7. Set aside.

Part II – Vegetable soup to add to the cream of white vegetables

INGREDIENTS (Choose organic and local seasonal ingredients if possible)

  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium-sized potatoes, cut into small cubes
  • 2 small white turnips, cut into small cubes
  • 4 carrots, quartered and sliced
  • 2 cups of green and yellow beans, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 small zucchini cut into half-circles
  • 2 cups of corn
  • Vegetable broth (enough to cover the vegetables)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups of cooked white beans
  • Fresh dill to taste


  1. Sauté the onion in oil for 5 minutes.
  2. Add salt.
  3. Add the other vegetables according to their cooking times (roots and potatoes first, others later).
  4. Cover with vegetable broth.
  5. Reduce heat to simmer gently until the vegetables are cooked. You want them to retain some texture.
  6. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Add the white beans.
  8. Add dill to taste.

PART III – assembling the chowder

  1. The idea of this soup is to cook vegetables in a broth as for vegetable soup, then mix them into the white vegetable cream instead of making a béchamel or a milk-based soup.
  2. Add the cooked vegetables into the white soup first, then add broth gradually (if necessary) until it has the consistency of a chowder. Avoid thinning out the cream base too much – the main point of this recipe is the creamy texture of the result.

*You can also use only leeks or only cauliflower and potato to keep costs down and shopping simple.

*Adding arame seaweed gives a tang of the sea to this soup, interesting for a vegan recipe and turning it into a sea chowder…

Health and pleasure to all!


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