This time of year, savory soups and stews are a welcome sight on the dining-room table! Winter Vegetable Chowder is a wonderful, hearty soup featuring leeks, potatoes, and butternut squash. A rich, creamy base flavored with bacon makes this soup so hearty, it really is a full meal in itself! It’s something that you can prepare on the stove top an hour before dinner, and it’s one of my kids’ very favorite winter meals.
I found this recipe in the book Saving Dinner by Leanne Ely. This cookbook gives you menu plans, a list of ingredients for each week, and the recipes are fresh and easy to adapt to a real-food lifestyle. Let me tell you about the year I found that book: I was homeschooling my 2 older children and my youngest was a toddler. I had three additional home school students at my house several days a week, and by dinner time I was exhausted and completely void of any potential meal-time creativity. I needed something to help me out, so that I could spend my time in the kitchen actually cooking rather than trying to figure out what to make! Meal Planning is easier for me these days, but I still use many of the great recipes I found in Saving Dinner.
For this soup, you’ll need organic leeks, potatoes, garlic, onion, and butternut squash. Chop these up into soup-sized cubes and set aside.
In a large soup pot, brown some organic, nitrate-free bacon (cut the bacon into small pieces before you start). When the bacon is brown and crispy, drain all but a little bit of the fat off and set the bacon aside. Add the chopped leeks to the bacon drippings and saute until the leeks become tender, then add the rest of the chopped vegetables and stir well. If you’d rather have your soup meat-free, just omit the bacon step and saute the leeks in some coconut oil!
Pour some chicken broth or vegetable stock over the vegetables, add the bacon back into the pot (if you’re using it) and simmer until the vegetables are very tender. Now comes the secret: Turn your soup into a chowder by taking out about half of the vegetables and some broth, and puree it in a blender. Now, add a little organic raw cream to the puree (I’ve made this with coconut milk, too…just as good!) and carefully mix it back in with the rest of the soup. Instant chowder! My family is always happy to see this soup on the menu, and (although there may be some occasional squash avoidance) there’s never any complaints about the vegetables. In fact, I will often add other veggies to the chowder…parsnips, turnips, carrots, and even diced kale are great additions!
Winter Vegetable Chowder
Very slightly adapted from the Saving Dinner cookbook by Leanne Ely
3 organic leeks, washed and sliced
1/2 organic onion, chopped
4 slices organic, nitrate-free bacon (optional)
2 large organic russet potatoes, washed and cubed
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
4 cups organic, free range chicken broth (here’s how to make your own, or you may also use vegetable stock)
1/2 teaspoon organic dried thyme
3 cloves organic garlic, pressed
1 cup organic, grass fed raw cream (or 1 cup organic coconut milk)
real salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large soup pot, cook the bacon until it’s crisp and brown. Remove the bacon and set aside, drain all but about a tablespoon of the bacon drippings.
2. Saute the leeks in the bacon drippings (omit step one and just saute the leeks in coconut oil if you’d rather leave the meat out). Add the other chopped vegetables and cook for 3 more minutes.
3. Add the chicken broth or vegetable stock, garlic and thyme, and stir well. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.
4. Remove half of the vegetables from the soup, and puree in a blender (or mash with a potato masher). Add the cream or coconut milk to the puree, and carefully stir back into the remaining soup.
What’s your favorite kind of soup?