Tale of Two Chowders: Day 1

As the title implies, I will be sharing a few creamy stoups with you over the course of two posts. 

If you're wondering why I refer to "soups" as "stoups" you quite obviously haven't read my previous post and for that you should be ashamed.  Very ashamed.  Do so immediately.  Harumph.

Now let's dive in to today's hearty blend of goodness...

First up:  Whatever-ya-got Veggie Chowder

Now this light-but-rich (oxymoron?  not quite...you'll see) stoup is not only delicious, but healthy and cost-effective.  What?  Another cheap, easy, tasty, and healthy dish?

Yes, yes, I'm all about debunking preconceived notions.
And defying odds.
Watch out world.

So, yes, this stoup is all of the above and more.  It's also extremely versatile and entails digging in the innards of your fridge to find those random lonely veggies that might be on the verge of death.

Revive them!

Truly.  We all have those getting-a-little-droopy celery stalks or carrots that are starting to become a little too dry, or quite possibly that lonely parsnip that didn't make it into the meal with his friends.  Oh, please, give that poor parsnip a purpose, a reason to live.  Just call this dish group therapy for long-forgotten produce.

Trust me, this chowder will bring out their innermost demons, revive their souls, and bring them happiness once again.  Or you happiness, rather, since you'll be the one eating them.

On second thought, don't mention to your veggies that their rehab process will end in death. 

Actually, on third thought, if you are talking to your vegetables maybe you need rehab. 

Er, I never do that sort of thing.

Moving on.

This chowder is one of my favorites because there really is not defined recipe.  There are basics.  I use a few cups of whatever veggies happen to be hanging out in my fridge.  I chop up any fresh herbs remaining after other meals.  I use the remnants of whatever cheese happens to be chilling out in my freezer.  I use whatever milk, 2%, skim, or otherwise I have on hand.

Like I said, very versatile. 

It's one of those meals I pulled together randomly one day and...well, it worked.

And worked well.  Unbelievably well.

So well that it's become a go-to. 

I enjoy those sort of culinary surprises.  Don't you?

Let's get started. 

First things first, the recipe:

Note:  Keep in mind that any of these ingredients are up for swapping.  Like I said above, these are just what happened to be in my fridge that day--make your own concoctions!  It's a blast to see what arises from the rubble and remnants...

Whatever-ya-got Veggie Chowder

½ C chopped yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 Tbsp butter, melted
3 C favorite veggies (celery, cauliflower, parsnips, carrots, potatoes, spinach, etc)
4 Tbsp flour
2 ½ C chicken or veggie broth/stock
2 tsp salt or celery salt
1 ½ tsp thyme
½ tsp ground dry mustard
freshly ground pepper 
2 C milk (I like using a blend of 2% milk and half & half, but use whatever you like--the more fat content, the creamier and richer the broth, but if you are worried about calories feel free to use skim--the flavor isn't sacrificed too much).
1 tsp worcestershire
1 C whatever cheese you have
1 can white cannellini beans (or whatever bean you have)
2/3 C frozen peas
fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)
freshly grated parmesan (for topping)

1. Chop veggies into bite-sized pieces and mince garlic cloves. 
2. Melt butter in soup pot over medium-low heat.  Once melted, add veggies/garlic all at once, saute until tender
3. Once veggies are tender (3-4min), add flour and stir until veggies are coated.  Add broth, thyme, dry mustard, salt & pepper.  Let mixture thicken 3-4 minutes, stirring often.
4.  Once mixture has thickened, slowly add milk.  Cook a touch longer (2-3 min) then blend in Worcestershire, beans, peas, and cheese.  Let simmer until thick and cheese is melted (8-10min).
5. Garnish with chopped, fresh parsley, grated parmesan, and serve with a good crusty piece of bread.

Like I said, super easy and healthful.  Here are the ingredients I chose to work with:

Notice the lonely parsnip leftover from a Ladies' Night long ago, a few random carrots/celery, cauliflower (which I LOVE to use in place of potatoes in any dish--more fiber, less carbs than white potatoes and oh-so-filling).

Oh be still my heart.  I love me some veggies.

Anyway, melt the buttahh.  This is got to be, by far, one of my favorite smells (aside from freshly baked bread and chocolate chip cookies), the slow and steady simmer of butter.  Add to it a little garlic & onion and I'm in aroma heaven.

Now I chose to do 3 Tbsp butter, and 2 Tbsp olive oil to get those healthier fats but you do what you think is best.  If you want to go ahead and use all butter--I say GO FOR IT! 
I'm not one to judge.  Especially when it comes to butter.
Unless you use margarine.  Then I will judge. 
Just don't tell me about it.

Chop up those veggies.  See, don't they look all nice and merry together?  You are giving them hope for tomorrow, a better life.  They were drowning in a slow depression in that fridge crisper.

Now drop those guys into the pot.

Oh look, they are happier already. 
Add your flour, stir to coat, and then add the liquids/herbs/seasonings:

Once blended and beginning to thicken, slowly add milk:

Continue to stir often as the mixture thickens.  You don't want to burn it.  Burned milk/cream is horrid.
Please don't do this.

Now dig around in your fridge for whatever cheese you have.  This is what I happened to find:

About a cup will do.  Unless you want more.  If you want more, dump more, baby.
I love cheese.  It's a glorious thing, cheese.
As you can see, me and cholesterol get along.  Which likely defies the whole purpose in writing this blog. 
But like I always say, everything in moderation! 
It's my motto.

Lastly, add some beans.  Beans always make a soup that-much-better (and healthier) in my opinion.
Fiber and protein.

Rinse and dump them in.

Oh take a gander at that thick, bubbly goodness. 

Really, take a look:

Ahhhh, the smell is fabulous.  Now add your peas (if you so choose).  Mine were quite obviously in cavernous depths of my freezer (notice the freezer-burn).  Oh well.  Like I said, this is group-therapy, they will revive themselves.  Sorry about the smokiness of the photo--that pot was a-simmerin'!

Now chop up some fresh parsley.  I adore parsley.  It makes everything taste a bit more fresh & flavorful.  I often throw a little on top of soups and pasta dishes. 

Looks ready for eatin'!

Grab yourself the butt-end of a hearty baguette, my favorite part as a matter-of-fact.
No comments, please.
Grabbing a large bowl, top your stoup with the parsley, and freshly grated parmesan.

Oh me-oh my.  It's simply perfect.  Perfect for a chilly, icy, holed-in day.
Or for a summer evening.
Or for a snack.
Or for anything, really.  I don't need an excuse.

And, and, and...the best thing about stoups is the leftovers.  I always make loads more than I need so I can freeze the rest.  It's far better the second and third and fourth time around, as the flavors mingle and get cozy.

So, please, I beg you, give hope to your downtrodden vegetables.
Give them a reason to live.
Revive their souls.

And satisfy yours...


Kirsten's Cooking said...

This looks super! I love beans and would never thought of adding them, but thanks for the inspiration! We also had soup last night,it's that time of year for sure.
The big question is: does Curt enjoy the veggie chowder?

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