Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Non-Dairy Clam Chowder (or Not-Potato Soup)

New-England style clam chowder. It was one of those foods I thought I'd never enjoy again, at least for a very long time.

But, thanks to The Complete Food Allergy Cookbook: The Foods You've Always Loved Without the Ingredients You Can't Have, bought for me by DH, the impossible is happening fairly frequently around here.

This clam chowder is dairy, gluten, soy and nightshade free. It can be made without the clams for you vegans out there, too. (In that case, it's not clam chowder; it's mock potato soup.)

With no dairy and no nightshades, you can finally eat clam chowder again.


Clam Chowder (From The Complete Food Allergy Cookbook, by Marilyn Gioannini)

1 hour * 4 servings

This classic New England style clam chowder, thick with "potatoes", onion, and "cream", tastes exactly like the real thing. The "potato" is yuca (cassava) root, available in most supermarkets; the "cream" is cashew milk.
Absolutely delicious!

About 1 lb. yuca root
1/8 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/3 cup raw cashews
1 (6 1/2 oz) can minced clams with juice (check labels when shopping--some have preservatives)
salt and pepper

Peel yuca root and dice into 1/2 inch cubes. Cover generously with water, add salt, and bring to a boil in a medium saucepan. Simmer, covered, 30 to 40 minuts, or until very soft. Stir occasionally. While the yuca is cooking, heat vegetable oil in a medium skillet. Add chopped onion and saute until soft. Add the onion to the saucepan with the yuca root.

Put cashews into blender container. Blend briefly until they are broken up. Aded 1 1/2 cups of water and blend on high until cashews are completely pulverized, about 3 minutes. When the yuca is soft, add clams to the saucepan. Add cashew milk and heat just until hot. Serve immediately. Add salt and pepper to the bowl to taste, and serve with toast.

The book gives several variations on the recipe, including using other milk substitutes. I think next time I'll use a bit less onion, but I really enjoyed the soup.

I think I almost prefer the taste of cassava to that of a regular potato. It has a very similar taste and texture, but just slightly sweet and without that sort of sour flavor that potatoes sometimes have. It is, however, much tougher to cut up and takes longer to cook, and you have to be sure to remove all the little woody bits.

I like this food allergy cookbook. Rather than just giving recipes (although it has lots of those, too) the goal is to teach you to substitute and improvise so that you can alter existing recipes to meet your dietary needs. I highly recommend the book.

The information is truly helpful and fairly exhaustive, and almost every recipe I've tried so far has become one to add to the oft-repeated stash of favorites. There's also some helpful information about identifying and coping with food allergies in general.

The book tells you how to cook without the things you may need to avoid--including preservatives, animal products, dairy, eggs, soy, gluten, corn and other grains, sugar, nightshade plants, and even chocolate. The only area I noticed in which it is really lacking is that of tree nut and legume allergies; several of the recipes require either soy or some kind of tree nut (none call for peanuts), and cooking without tree nuts is not particularly discussed.

This cookbook has quickly become my most often-used cookbook. Especially the recipe for Universal Muffins--my kids and I love that one, and it's so very flexible. I make it sometimes several times a week.

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