Souper Monday Vegetable Chowder

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Baby it’s cold outside!! It was souper-cold in Calgary last week and the forecast for this week is pretty darned cold too! Fortunately, my fridge is stocked with enough food for a couple more days because I really don’t feel like leaving the house to buy groceries! Here’s a really nourishing soup you can make with the vegetables you likely have on hand. This recipe is typical of the way I tend to cook these days. I simply check my fridge to see what needs to be used up and turn it onto a soup or some kind of sauté. I find this works well for me because I really don’t like wasting food and I do like one-pan meals!  

Dice as many or as few vegetables as you have, throw them all into a pot with water, a few staple spices and seasonings and voila! You don’t even need stock for this, although a nice vegetable stock would certainly nudge the flavour up a notch if you do use it. Either way, you’ll end up with a delicious and filling soup in short order! You aren’t limited to the list of ingredients below –  I constantly adapt the recipe to whatever is in my fridge on any particular day, which means that the chowder turns out different every time! Outside of the potatoes, which I would say are a must, feel free to add as many or as few of your own favourites instead. The potatoes help to thicken the soup and give it the creamy consistency of chowder.

No less tasty and satisfying than chowders containing cream or milk, this is a lusciously  thick soup – just healthier and lower in calories. And there’s nothing wrong with that, is there?

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Fresh herbs make this soup pop with flavour, so if you have them, don’t be afraid to use them. Fresh basil would be a nice addition if you have it, as would fresh a little fresh thyme. Dried spices will work too but I use fresh herbs in just about everything so I tend to  have a variety of different ones in my refrigerator at all times. Add the herbs right before serving to maximize the flavours and aromas.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1½ cups diced potatoes
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 medium stalk celery, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups frozen corn
  • 1 cup chopped cauliflower
  • 1/3 cup fennel, thinly sliced or diced
  • ½ medium red pepper, diced
  • ½ small purple topped turnip, diced
  • ½ cup red onion, diced
  • ½ small leek, diced
  • 5-6 oil-free sundried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium-large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chilli powder
  • 1 tsp. blackstrap molasses (could substitute maple syrup)
  • 2 ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. chipotle chilli powder
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika
  • ¼ cup each: fresh parsley, fresh dill, fresh cilantro
  • 6 cups water

DIRECTIONS

Bring everything except fresh parsley, dill and cilantro to a boil in a large pot. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes. Remove about a cup of the mixture to a blender (vegetables and liquid) and puree. Return puree to the soup pot and stir to blend.

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Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender to puree a little of the soup right in the pot. This is my preferred method so that I don’t dirty another dish or tool. Admittedly, it is a bit harder to gage the amount of soup you are pureeing this way, but if you are careful and puree the soup in small increments, blending the puree into the rest of the soup in between each go with the immersion blender, you should be able to reach the “chowder” consistency without any trouble. Ultimately, you want a soup that is fairly thick but still contains plenty of the whole vegetables for texture and visual appeal.

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Adjust seasonings and salt, garnish with fresh herbs and serve.

Notes: This chowder is quite rich and creamy as it but you can whiten the colour and make it even more rich by adding pureed cashews. Simply blend 1/4 cup of cashews with 1/4 cup of water in a high-speed blender until completely smooth. Stir into the soup at the end of cooking.  

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