Dairy-Free Clam and Corn Chowder

There's something in the air. Not a chill, exactly (though it has gotten a little cooler, which I love). No, there's a sweet, dank aroma that's arrived. I noticed it when we took the dog out for a walk in the woods. Nature telling us that we're approaching the end of summer. As soon as it hit me, I immediately craved soup and, so, I made a pot of clam chowder. It's not your typical clam chowder and I know there are purists out there who might make a fuss about this being too fancy. But it really isn't. The major difference is that I used coconut milk instead of cream. I actually prefer it this way. It's rich in flavor, but doesn't feel heavy. Also, there's no bacon in it. Now, I have nothing against bacon and I totally see why folks love it so much, but I am baffled as to why every chowder recipe contains some. Let's ask ourselves... Does it really need it? In my opinion, it doesn't (note the smoked paprika, which provides a hint of that bacony flavor).

The funny thing is that I made this chowder last week and again over the weekend. On the Cape, my brother-in-law will often go out clamming in the morning. When he does, he'll return with buckets of beautiful, fresh, briny clams (sometimes there are snails and mussels thrown into the mix). Last Sunday, I suggested that I make a batch of this soup for his birthday dinner that evening, which he was totally on board with. So, clam chowder twice in one week. Not bad at all. 

Dairy-Free Clam and Corn Chowder

To cut down on the cooking time, I've suggested using canned clams instead of preparing fresh clams, which is what I initially did when I made this dish. 

4-6 servings

1 yellow onion, chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 celery stalks, sliced into thick 1/4 inch thick pieces
3 ears corn kernels
Black pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 10 oz cans chopped clams, in clam juice
1 15 oz can full-fat coconut milk
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Fresh dill

In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped yellow onion and cook for 30 seconds. Add the sweet potato and celery. Season with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the corn kernels, chopped clams, clam juice and coconut milk and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the sweet potato is cooked. Season with salt, to taste. Before serving, stir in lime juice. Ladle soup into bowls and top with fresh dill and freshly ground black pepper