It’s winter. In Maine. That has several implications for me, but a few converged this week in my meal planning:
1. It’s cold.
2. I’m stuck in a perpetual almost-sick state of being.
3. There are slim pickings at the Farmers’ Market.
#1 and #2 lead me to soup, and #3 leads me to root vegetables. Ok, I can live with that. (With some help from my off-season friends, frozen veggies.)
It all starts with potatoes. There is a farm at the Portland Winter Farmers’ Market that has some pretty awesome potatoes. I love buying their quarts of mixed blues, reds, and goldens… pretty colors + tasty = weekly winter buy.
The carrots right now at the market are also top-notch – sweet, hearty, and also in an array of colors. (I totally judge food by its “cover”, and that usually works out for me, so whatever.) These delicious roots make up for the lack of vegetable variety in January!
(On a related note, greens – kale, spinach, etc. – have been stars of the market in recent weeks, but I was late this week, and there weren’t any left… I’m hoping that’s a fluke, but either way, I had to resort to store-bought organic greens in this recipe. Boo.)
I’ve also had a hankering for corn lately, so I whipped up this chowder, along with market-fresh garlic, onion and parsley, and some mushrooms and spinach to round it out.
Corn and Roots Chowder
NOTE: My ingredients list and measurements are approximate – I’m a “winger”, and I encourage the same. For example, I had a partial can of light coconut milk on hand that I wanted to get rid of, so into the pot it went (although I didn’t list it here). Go wild with whatever veggies you want/don’t want. Or even some meat. I won’t judge. Inspired by SavvyVegetarian’s process in her own corn chowdah.
3 TBS olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2-1 cup mushrooms, diced small (I used cremini/baby bella)
1 qt mixed potatoes, diced into bite-sized pieces (about 10 small-medium taters, or about 5-6 large)
1-2 medium-large carrots, 1/4-inch dice (I used 2 mediums but I snacked on half of one of them… cooking sustenance)
1 bag (10 oz) frozen corn (this is a fair amount of corn – 3ish cups? – so experiment to your taste)
3-4 cups veggie stock/broth (or water) – approximate measurement (see below)
2 TBS flour (of any kind, gluten-free if desired)
about 1 cup milk (of any kind, I used unsweetened almond)
2 cups spinach, chopped
salt, pepper to taste (freshly ground, if possible)
1 tsp chili powder (adds warmth)
dash of cayenne pepper (or more, if you’re feeling spicy)
about 3 TBS fresh parsley, chopped
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large pot at medium heat. Stir in onion, garlic, and mushrooms, and cook until the onion softens, 2-3 minutes. Add potatoes, carrots, corn and enough stock/water to just cover the veggies, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes and carrots are tender. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 TBS oil to a small pot on medium-low, add the flour, and whisk together until the paste they form starts to bubble. Add milk and continue whisking to avoid lumping, and increase heat to medium to thicken slightly (add more flour or milk to achieve desired thickness – doesn’t need to be super thick, though). Scoop 2-4 cups of the veggie mixture and some broth into a blender and puree (I used my immersion blender with its accompanying beaker thing, filled twice). Add back to soup, along with your milk mixture. Puree more vegetables if desired for texture. Add spinach and heat through until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add spices and parsley, stir, and enjoy.
NOTE: Spices and herbs can be added just about anytime during a meal, but when using fresh herbs, add at the end to retain flavor, and I prefer to add all spices at the end whenever I’m pureeing. Thoughts? Comment away!
That there be some happy, sizzling, onion, garlic, and mushrooms.
A little of this, a little of that… sometimes I go spice/herb-crazy. That’s my favorite part!
I hope you enjoyed the adventure. Come again!