The Kinder Kitchen

Hearty Corn and Vegetable Chowder

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! 

 

Hearty Corn and Vegetable Chowder
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 cups diced Russet potato (about 1/2 " cubes)
  2. 1 1/2 cups sliced celery
  3. 1 cup diced carrot
  4. 1 cup diced red bell pepper
  5. 1 cup diced white or yellow onion
  6. 2 cups fresh, frozen, or canned corn
  7. 1 box (32 oz) low-sodium vegetable broth, OR 4 cups homemade veg broth
  8. 1/2 cup cashews (see notes for nut-free alternative)
  9. 1 cup water
  10. 1 tsp garlic salt, OR 1 tsp sea salt and 2 cloves minced garlic
  11. 2 tsp dried parsley
  12. 1 tsp thyme
  13. 1 tsp smoked paprika
  14. White wine, optional
  15. Black pepper to taste
  16. Fresh parsley for garnish, optional
Instructions
  1. First, chop all veggies and measure out ingredients to have at the ready.
  2. In a high-speed blender, blend cashews and 1 cup water until smooth. Set aside.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. Add the potatoes, corn, broth, and cashew/water mixture.
  7. Bring pot to a boil, then cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
  8. 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.
  9. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.
Notes
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
The Kinder Kitchen http://thekinderkitchen.com/

Easy Vegan Cream of Potato Soup

potato soup

Is there anything better than a piping hot bowl of creamy, chunky, savory potato soup on a chilly winter day?  (psssst- the answer is NO)

When I first became vegan, I had this idea that my days of enjoying rich, creamy soups and bisques were over.  I hadn’t cooked much with non-dairy plant and nut milks, and had yet to discover the wonder of the mighty CASHEW in whipping up all manner of rich creaminess.  As far as I knew, things like cream of potato soup required CREAM, and since I had sworn off all dairy products, I turned my attention toward brothier soups and bade creamy potato, broccoli, and tomato soups farewell.

It wasn’t until I’d been vegan for almost a year that I was introduced to the wonders of cooking with cashews– which are partly responsible for the rich and creamy texture of this potato soup– and began experimenting with using them to replace things like cream and butter in sauces and soups.  And don’t even get me started on cashew cheeses!  SWOON.  That’s a post for another day.  Replacing the traditional milk and butter in this soup with a scant 1/2 cup of cashews lets you keep the creamy richness at just a fraction of the fat.  WIN!

So without further ado, let’s get cooking, shall we?

***Just a quick note about blenders (okay I snuck in a little more “ado” there, sorry):  Optimal blending and incorporation of the cashews in this recipe really requires a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, which I use, or a Blendtec, which is of similar calibur.  For years I swore I didn’t need one, that my regular blender was just FINE.  And it was, for some things, but in many areas it just fell short, like getting sauces or cheese bases with cashews silky smooth, or blending a kale smoothie to perfection with no chewy bits.  I won’t lie, I hated spending the money for my Vitamix, even after I found the best deal possible on a reconditioned model from The Blender Lady, but when I used it for the first time, I was HOOKED.   But, if you don’t yet have a high-powered blender, don’t worry–you can STILL make this soup!  Just follow the alternate instructions at the end of the recipe, and it’ll still be just as tasty.

 

 

Easy Vegan Cream of Potato Soup
Serves 8
You're sure to love a bowl of this velvety, comforting soup, and I promise you will not miss the dairy in my version.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 6 cups cubed Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes
  2. 1 small or 1/2 large yellow or white onion, cut into chunks
  3. 1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews
  4. 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  5. 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  6. 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond, cashew, or other plant-based milk
  7. 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  8. salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add potatoes, and cook until soft but not mushy.
  2. While potatoes are cooking, add all other ingredients to your blender, and process until the cashews are blended smooth. Add additional salt or pepper if needed.
  3. When the potatoes are done, drain and return to pot, then coarsely mash, leaving it as chunky as you'd like it. I personally like to mash the potatoes so that about half of them are left in nice bite-sized chunks.
  4. Pour the blender sauce into the potato pot and stir to combine. If it's too thick, more broth or almond milk can be added to thin a bit, then adjust seasoning accordingly if needed.
  5. Garnish with sliced scallions and vegan bacon bits, or if desired, vegan cheese shreds. I've even added sliced sundried tomatoes to this soup--super tasty!
For those without a high-powered blender: A little extra prep here
  1. Soak your cashews in water overnight, then just before blending, boil them for about 5 minutes to soften them up. This helps a lot, but you may find that your sauce is still just a tad grainy. In this case, I'd leave your potatoes a little chunkier to mask any residual graininess.
The Kinder Kitchen http://thekinderkitchen.com/
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