Monday, February 20, 2012

Potato, Corn, and Celery Chowder

Growing up in Minnesota, you can bet these winter months are filled with corn and potatoes. Let's face it, they make a regular appearance year round. Corn and potatoes are easily some of my favorites foods, and lend themselves to so many uses that it makes it simple to create dishes with a corn or potato base. Chowders, however, weren't on the regular rotation. They are typically loaded with fat, mostly saturated fat from whole fat milks or cream. Most chowder brands and/or recipes have a few specs of vegetables here or there, hardly heart healthy. By blending plant based (vegan) ingredients you can still create that thick chowder consistency without the fat. 

The first time I made this soup, it seemed to be lacking that pop in color. The next time around I added diced red bell peppers which seemed to make all the difference in appearance and added a delightful texture. The right texture can really add depth to the simplest of recipes, like this one. Adding corn at a few different places in the recipe contribute to texture depth and overall delight. Also, I should note that in talking to people about food on a regular basis, it seems like dill is a hit or miss herb. If you're not the biggest dill fan, I promise it's very mild and compliments more than overpowers.

Potato, Corn, and Celery Chowder

1 teaspoon olive or canola oil
2 cups diced onions
4 celery ribs, diced
2 large baking potatoes, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 cups frozen corn kernels, (can use up to 4 cups if you're a corn connoisseur), will be divided
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (or use 4 cups broth)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried dill weed

1. Heat the oil in large saucepan and saute the onions. 
2. Add celery, potatoes, red bell pepper, 1 cup of the corn kernels, broth, thyme, and dill weed.
3. Cook on medium high heat until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes (depending on the size).
4. Spoon out about 2 cups of the cooked soup and vegetables and blend with 2 cups of the remaining corn kernels. An immersion blender or traditional blender can be used here. Regardless of blender type, use just enough liquid to blend to avoid getting burned if hot soup liquid spatters.
5. Add blended mixture back into soup along with remaining corn kernels and non-dairy milk, if using. The milk creates a rich creaminess, but a broth based soup is equally tasty. Heat throughout until ready to serve.

Pressure Cooker Option:
Follow the first two steps. When those ingredients are added, lock the lid and set the timer on high for 4 minutes. Use the quick release method. Follow additional steps in recipe, starting at step 4. 

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