Sunday, August 9, 2009

Veggie-Leek Chowder

For some reason I've been on a soup kick lately, specifically chowder. I think the catalyst was a soup I had a few days ago from Sweet Clover Market in Essex, VT. It was a tomatillo-corn chowder. Each bite (or slurp) had an incredible burst of flavor, all at once spicy (in an herby sort of way) and creamy and earthy. It was the kind of food experience that I dream about at night and fantasize about days later as I eat a turkey sandwich on stale bread for lunch.

As I told the clerk at Sweet Clover while I was purchasing the soup (after trying a free sample), I love to cook... but I couldn't cut it as a chef. I don't have that talent or education to combine flavors in a way that make people drool for my food a week later.

Despite this lack of James Beard-level cooking ability, I still like to give it my all. So, I looked for a recipe to use a bunch of leeks from my week eight CSA, as well as a glistening container of chicken stock from a previous week. I came across a Potato, Corn and Leek Chowder recipe. First problem, no potatoes in the house. Second problem, only frozen corn (not ideal, but ok in a pinch). So, I made a few adaptations to incorporate more of my CSA veggies, and still managed to get a chowder (a lightened chowder, I might add) on the table. This soup would be great with so many different summer veggies and herbs. Use what you have on hand.

Veggie-Leek Chowder
Adapted from Cooking Light

2 T butter
1 T olive oil (I used sunflower oil again)
1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped leek
1/2 cup finely chopped purple pepper (or celery)
1/2 cup finely chopped red pepper
2 cups whole milk
3 T flour
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels (or 2 cups fresh)
1 cubed zucchini (or 2 lbs cubed Yukon gold or red potato)
1 t salt
1/4 t freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
3 T chopped fresh chives

Heat butter and oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leek, purple pepper, and red pepper; cook 4 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring frequently. Combine milk and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Slowly add milk mixture to pan, stirring constantly. Stir in broth, corn, zucchini, salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Stir in parsley and chives.

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