There’s plenty of cold weather left, at least in my neck of the woods, so soups, stews, and chili are still in high demand and enjoyed by all in the Cuoco household! This flavorful, rich chowder is no exception- when I whipped it up a few weeks ago, murmurs of “Oh, yeah, this is good stuff” and “Oh wow, yum!” could be heard ’round the table, so I knew it must be shared with my readers.
Now, let’s settle an issue here: what exactly IS chowder? Originally, it was a thick, chunky fisherman’s stew made with seafood, and nearly always involved the use of milk or cream. Interestingly, the word chowder even comes from the French word for cauldron, which fishermen usually used to cook most things they ate at sea.
These days, however, the definition has become more vague and inclusive, and we can call most any chunky soup with a creamy element chowder, and with the wide variety of dairy replacement options available to vegans, it’s easier than ever to achieve the silky creaminess needed for a truly satisfying chowder.
Side note: you know how when you say (or type) a word over and over, it starts to sound nonsensical and made-up? CHOWDER CHOWDER CHOWDER CHOWDER CHOWDER. Yep. That’s what it’s like inside my head, folks.
This recipe for Hearty Corn and Vegetable Chowder is amazeballs. It’s oil-free and only 170 calories per cup, making it a huge score for those of us adhering to a more whole foods, plant-based diet, but rich and creamy enough that you would never guess it’s not a dairy-based soup. It whips together fairly fast, making it an excellent weeknight meal for busy families.
Alright, enough yammering, let’s do this! Start by doing what I call “getting your act together.” Chop all veggies, measure out seasonings and broth, etc. If you want to get all fancypants, call it mise en place- French for “putting in place” or “everything in place.” It’s a good habit to get into when cooking, because then you’re never stuck having to stop stirring or whatever and risk your food burning in order to measure something out or chop something. Plus, it makes you feel like the host of your own coking show when you have all of your ingredients all ready to go in little dishes!
- 4 cups diced Russet potato (about 1/2 " cubes)
- 1 1/2 cups sliced celery
- 1 cup diced carrot
- 1 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1 cup diced white or yellow onion
- 2 cups fresh, frozen, or canned corn
- 1 box (32 oz) low-sodium vegetable broth, OR 4 cups homemade veg broth
- 1/2 cup cashews (see notes for nut-free alternative)
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp garlic salt, OR 1 tsp sea salt and 2 cloves minced garlic
- 2 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- White wine, optional
- Black pepper to taste
- Fresh parsley for garnish, optional
- First, chop all veggies and measure out ingredients to have at the ready.
- In a high-speed blender, blend cashews and 1 cup water until smooth. Set aside.
- In a large soup pot, cook celery, carrot, onion, and bell pepper in a few splashes of water over medium-high heat until fairly soft, about 6 to 8 minutes. If using minced garlic in place of garlic salt, add it to this step.
- Add garlic salt, parsley, thyme, smoked paprika, and stir well to combine. Cook another 5 minutes or so, until the water and moisture from the veggies has mostly evaporated and you can see brown bits starting to cling to the bottom of the pot. Don't let it burn!
- At this point, if you would like to use the white wine, add a few splashes to the pot to deglaze. See my notes if you prefer not to use wine.
- Add the potatoes, corn, broth, and cashew/water mixture.
- Bring pot to a boil, then cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
- Using a handheld wand blender, briefly blend until about 1/3 of the chowder has been coarsely pureed. Alternately, you can put about 2 to 3 cups of the chowder in your blender and briefly puree, then add back to the pot.
- Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.
- Using white wine to deglaze the pot: If you're unfamiliar with the term "deglaze" it's basically fancy-talk for putting cold liquid into a hot pan to loosen up the gunky brown bits from the bottom. Those bits are full of flavor, and deglazing with wine not only loosens them so they can mingle with the rest of the ingredients, the wine itself (the alcohol will burn off) lends a lovely depth of flavor. However, if you prefer not to use wine or simply don't have any, you can deglaze the pot with vegetable broth or water.
- Nut-free alternative: If you prefer not to use cashews due to an allergy, or would simply like to pare down the calorie content further, you may use 1 cup non-dairy milk of your choice instead.