Dairy-Free Veggie Chowder
When I think of chowder, I think of heavy, milk and cream laden soups that are nearly as thick as a stew. And, I must admit, that is what I find appealing about them. If you are eating them whilst wistfully gazing out at the sea, then they are even more appealing.
I have been to Seattle several times and each time I try to eat something different. On one such visit, I had some of the local clam chowder. It was solely for the purpose of eating the local fare in an amazing location. Of course, if you have ever had really good clam chowder in the Pacific Northwest, you know that the salt in the air, the sounds of sea birds, and the spray of the water against the hull of a ferry boat all contribute to the flavor. It is the experience of it as much as the food. Like eating a beignet while walking the streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans or gazing up at the Sears (Willis) Tower in Chicago while digging into a hot dog loaded with chopped tomatoes, onions, celery seed, and a pickle spear. The flavor and the memory are one and the same.
Well, this is not that kind of chowder.
I know! I know! You want a recipe for the heavy, milk and cream laden soup. But that isn’t what is happening today. Nope. Today is the ‘lets make a thick and creamy healthy chowder’ day. Don’t worry. You will thank me latter when you feel great and look fit.
The whole she-bang is simple. Bacon + veggies + broth = wonderful goodness. Its a culinary formula for success.
Sometimes, it is the spectacular flavor that pulls you in and that is the deal with this soup. It may look rather plain and nondescript, but it is a classic example of how a few simple ingredients can make something spectacular. In this case, I wanted all of the goodness of a vegetable chowder but due to the dietary limitations of a house guest, it also had to be dairy free. As it turns out, that isn’t really a problem with chowder. No, it may not be traditional but for me, it hits enough of the major characteristics to qualify. So chowder it is.
Dairy-Free (Gluten-Free) Veggie Chowder
Recipe adapted from here.
6 slices of bacon, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 large carrots, chopped
3 large stalks of celery, chopped
2 T olive oil, grapeseed, or coconut oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 bay leaves
1 head of cauliflower chopped, core, leaves, and large stems removed
1-48 oz carton of good quality chicken or vegetable stock
1 HEAPING T arrowroot
1 c plain, unsweetened almond milk or 1 c or regular milk
In a large soup pot, saute the bacon until browned and crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a bowl, and drain off excess fat. Do NOT wipe out the pot! Over medium heat, add the olive oil to the pot along with all the vegetables. Season with the salt and pepper. Stir often to let the veggies start to cook. When they start to steam, add the bay leaves and the stock. Bring the soup up to a slow simmer, and let it cook until the vegetables are cooked, but not mushy. Gently break up the chopped vegetables with a potato masher, and if you choose, blitz it a bit with an immersion blender. Mix the arrowroot and the milk together and slowly stir it into the soup. Let it heat up to a bubble again, taste for seasoning, and serve with crumbled bacon on top.