Vegetarian Clam Chowder – Potato Leek Bisque

Think the traditional clam chowder but made vegetarian with the same fabulous flavor.

About the recipe

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.  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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