Monday, March 23, 2015

Vegetable Chowder

I write our weekly menu on a chalkboard and had to laugh when I realized I wrote this dish down as vegetarian chowder, not vegetable chowder.  With 4 strips of bacon (which I think are essential for the flavor of the dish), I'd say this meal is most definitely not vegetarian. But it is loaded with vegetables, which I love.  And it also has great flavor. As I mentioned, the bacon adds so much to the dish - the soup made great leftovers the next day (sans bacon) but it's definitely the best with just a little bacon crumbled on top.  A little goes a long way! 

While soup season might be ending for some, I think this still is a fabulous option and still works for spring! It's a filling meal but not overly so.  I served this with a salad and I think some fresh bread on the side would be excellent, too.

Vegetable Chowder
Taken from: Pink Parsley
Serves 4-6 as a main course
  • 4 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only; halved lengthwise, sliced thin, and rinsed thoroughly
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1/2 large onion)
  • 4-5 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2-3 celery ribs, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 lbs russet or yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tsp minced fresh thyme (I used about 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 Tbs minced fresh chives, plus more for serving (I forgot to add)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  1. Cook the bacon in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crispy, 5 to 9 minutes.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the fat in the pot.  
  2. Stir in the leeks, onion, carrots, celery, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, and 1 teaspoon of salt into the pot.  Cook until the leeks are translucent and the vegetables are beginning to soften, about 8 minutes.  Add the potatoes and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and thyme and cook 30 seconds.
  3. Add the broth and the bay leaf and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and and simmer until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.
  4. Discard the bay leaf.  If using an immersion/hand blender, blend about half of the soup, making sure there are still plenty of chunks of vegetables in the soup. (Alternatively, you can transfer 2 cups of the liquid to a blender, and use a slotted spoon to transfer 1 cup of the vegetables to the blender as well.  Puree until smooth, about 1 minute -- just be sure to open the vent on your blender and cover it with a towel, to prevent explosions! Stir the processed soup back into the pot.) 
  5. Stir in 1/4 cup half-and-half, chives, and lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper. Taste and add additional half and and half one tablespoon at a time, if desired.  Top each portion with a sprinkle of chives and the reserved bacon, and serve.


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