Vegetarian Clam Chowder – Potato Leek Bisque

I’ve always looked enviously at clam chowder but I’ve never tried it. Now I know what chowder tastes like 😀.  When the kids had this soup my eldest Sri said it tasted like clam chowder and asked me if this was a vegetarian clam chowder?  It is!

The inspiration for this soup was Barefoot Contessa’s Ina Garten’s French Mussel Bisque. Her soup had plenty of steamed mussels, leeks, and carrots in a creamy herbed broth with saffron. The soup looked so delicious that I was racking my brains trying to figure out a way to make it without the mussels. The vegetable that came to mind is potatoes.  I followed Ina’s instructions with my own selection of vegetables and cut down on the amount of butter, half and half, and cream.


Potato Leek Bisque


  • 2-3 leek stalks white and light green parts finely cut
  • 4-5 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 2 carrots cut into small pieces
  • 4-5 medium sized Yukon gold potatoes cut into small chunks
  • 1 tsp saffron threads and some extra for garnish
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup white wine (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup half/half
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Cook’s Notes: To make this soup dairy-free, skip the butter and cook with olive oil, don’t add cream and half/half.  The rest of the directions follow as instructed.


  • In a large pot heat 2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp olive oil. Add the leeks and sauté until translucent about 5 minutes.


  • Next add the carrots and garlic, salt, pepper, saffron and thyme leaves and mix together. Cook covered for 10 minutes until carrots are tender.


  • Add the cut potatoes, 1-cup wine, and 5 cups broth. Cook covered for additional 10 minutes until the potatoes are tender.


  • Turn the stove off. Lightly blend with a hand blender so the vegetables are still chunky but a little smaller.
  • Add half and half and cream and mix-in. To keep this soup dairy free, leave out the cream and half and half.  Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. Add fresh parsley and bring soup to a low boil.  Soup is ready.


  • Serve hot bisque with garnish of fresh parsley and saffron threads.




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