Creamy Potato & Spinach Chowder

The less people know, the more stubbornly they know it.
— Rajneesh

I think it might almost be officially fall here in Alaska. And yes, in case you're wondering, fall in the Last Frontier starts in July. Prompt and decidedly unapologetic. I judge it's early arrival by the daybreak. It's been exceptionally cold here in the mornings, which is always the first telling.

Steam breathes up from the dirt road as soon the sun peeks above the mountain tops in the dawn. I start to see Bailey's breath on our morning walks as he quietly pads down our driveway and branches are softly nudged from a gentle, crisp breeze, encouraging little yellow leaves to float to the earth. And there's the rain. Everlasting rain. The kind of wearisome drizzle you think might never end until it turns out one evening to spontaneously decide to be snow. 

It's not all bad though. Autumn is one of my favorite times of the year. I love snuggling up in cozy sweaters and blankets and my special teacup deploys each evening for tea or cocoa. Coffee consumption surges as my wakings get a little colder, and a little darker with each passing sleep. 

I'll miss the light the most though. 

Last night, a lonely, bleak, and dreary evening indeed, beckoned for a chowder. A potato and spinach chowder. To be frank, any chowder would have sufficed, but I happened to have a bag of mixed baby fingerling potatoes and a lovely bundle of fresh spinach on hand and so it was. 

Produce On Parade - Creamy Potato & Spinach Chowder

I'm not really sure what exactly constitutes a chowder and for fear of being incorrect on a technicality, I decided against Googling it. This is a chowder, dammit. A chunky and hot chowder promising couch snuggle-time while watching The Borgias on Netflix. That show is amazing by the way. 

Produce On Parade - Creamy Potato & Spinach Chowder
Produce On Parade - Creamy Potato & Spinach Chowder
Produce On Parade - Creamy Potato & Spinach Chowder
Produce On Parade - Creamy Potato & Spinach Chowder
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Creamy Potato & Spinach Chowder
This is a rich, luxurious and chunky soup laden with tender baby potatoes and fresh, silky spinach. Note: Peel the potatoes if you must, but I definitely recommend keeping the peels on. Kombu is a type of seaweed that helps with digestion and is a good source of natural iodine. It’s often used in broths. I get mine off Amazon, but it is optional for this soup.
  • 3 lbs. (about 6 cups) mixed baby fingerling potatoes, whole
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large brown onion, diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 12 oz. non-dairy milk (I used hazelnut)
  • 1 small strip of kombu (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch (10 oz.) fresh spinach leaves, washed and torn
  • 1/2 diced avocado, for garnish (optional)
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds, for garnish (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
Scrub the potatoes and place them in a large saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Allow to boil for about 10-15 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain and set aside to cool slightly.Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onions become fragrant and begin to brown. Stir in the flour. Then, stir in the remaining ingredients excluding the spinach and garnishes. Stir often, until the soup begins to thicken. Turn to low and add the spinach leaves. Mash 2 cups of boiled potatoes and add them to the soup. Dice the remaining potatoes and add to the soup as well. Stir to combine. Add more broth or milk for a thinner soup, if desired. The kombu can be removed and discarded once softened, or diced up and added back to the soup.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6-8
Produce On Parade - Creamy Potato & Spinach Chowder

German Word of The Day

Chowder --> dicke Suppe (dick-eh Zup-eh) - dick means thick in German!

Good Deed of The Day

Ariana Grande thinks bacon is "beyond horrifying :( shocking disgusting and heartbreaking" and so do I. Here's a link to a 60 second video on how bacon is made, which is pretty pertinent information if you eat it! Apathy and ignorance doesn't do good for anyone.

Yam, Corn & Chard Chowder

Growing up, both my parents were proficient in the kitchen. My dad is an amazing cook and my mom is a superb baker. They both shared the responsibility of putting dinner on the table, equally (or so I remember). I also recall, when us kids were young, there was one night a week that we had to pick out a recipe for dinner and Dad and Mom would help us make it. Essentially, they were teaching us how to cook, know our way around a kitchen, also how to be familiar with vegetables and the secrets of the mysterious pantry items. In addition, whoever cooked dinner that night didn't have to clean the kitchen. That laid in the hands of the family members who ate the dinner, but were not responsible for actually cooking it. We all helped and it made light work. Whoever cooked got to kick back their feet and relax!

Because cooking was such an integral part of growing up, it is absolutely bewildering to me that there are people about us who don't know how to cook. Don't like to cook? I can understand if it's not your bag. After cooking my feet hurt, and I just want to sit down but then there's a pile of dishes staring at me. I get it. It can be time consuming and laborious. But don't know how to cook? That's a different enchilada altogether. 

Todd and I decided to devote each Sunday dinner to a little cooking class. He's the executive chef and I'm the sous chef/cooking instructor during these lessons. I'm super excited at this prospect! And I hope he is too. Todd is an exceptional waffle maker (better than me!), but his capacity in the kitchen kind of ends there. Sorry, honey.

However, that's all changing. Yesterday was the first cooking instruction and he was lead behind this tasty Yam, Corn & Chard Chowder. This chowder is slightly sweetened by yams, laden with silky strands of chard, and popping with sweet corn and split peas. 

Produce On Parade - Yam, Corn & Chard Chowder

He did such an awesome job, I think I might just have to be the sous chef every night from now on! Does your spouse cook? How do you involve your children in the cooking process?

Yam, Corn & Chard Chowder

Serves 8

Notes: Sweet potatoes can replace the yams if you like. Spinach or kale can be substituted for the chard. Be sure to clean the leeks well, as dirt likes to hide out in the leaves. 

  • Peas:
  • 1/2 cup split peas, dry
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • pinch of salt
  • Aromatics:
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • Sustenance:
  • 2 medium yams or sweet potatoes, diced
  • 1 small strip of kombu (optional)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 medium leek, cleaned and sliced (leaves removed)
  • Conclusion: 
  • 1 bunch of chard, de-stemmed and chopped
  • 11 oz. frozen corn
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

In a small saucepan, bring the pea ingredients to a boil over high heat. Then, reduce to low and simmer for about 35 minutes or until the water is gone and the peas are tender. Set aside until ready to use.

Produce On Parade - Yam, Corn & Chard Chowder

In a large soup pot, heat the coconut oil over medium-low. Add the remaining aromatic ingredients and saute for about 5 minutes, until the onions are soft. Then, add the sweet potato and saute another few minutes. 

Produce On Parade - Yam, Corn & Chard Chowder

Add the vegetable broth and water. Turn to high and bring to a boil, then reduce to low and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are tender. Add the leeks and cook another couple minutes. 

Produce On Parade - Yam, Corn & Chard Chowder

At this point you can remove the piece of kombu, or blend it into the soup like I did.Transfer the soup carefully to a blender and blend roughly. It shouldn't be completely smooth.

Produce On Parade - Yam, Corn & Chard ChowderTransfer back to the soup pot and add the conclusion ingredients as well as the cooked peas. Heat over medium until the chard is wilted and the corn is heated, about 5 minutes. 

Produce On Parade - Yam, Corn & Chard Chowder

Serve hot. 

Produce On Parade - Yam, Corn & Chard Chowder Produce On Parade - Yam, Corn & Chard ChowderBob told me to tell you, "Happy Monday!"

Produce On Parade - Yam, Corn & Chard Chowder Produce On Parade - Yam, Corn & Chard ChowderHe also told me that you deserve tulips. Especially if you sign the Good Deed of The Day.

Listening to: Mree – Monsters

German Word of The Day: Yam (or sweet potato) --> Süßkartoffel (pronounced: zeus-cartoffel ) Literally translates to sweet (Süß) potato (Kartoffel).

Good Deed of The Day: Sign this petition to help rescue Masha from a "Bear Baiting" camp in Russia. This just made my heart so sad.

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Creamy Vegan Not Clam Chowder

Some of these cold, icy nights call for chowda. We've been having plenty of those nights this week. This morning, I woke up to my Subaru literally enveloped in a rock hard, thick coat of solid ice. Wonderful. Bob's morning walk was more of a morning ice skate... Thus, clam chowder time. Being vegan, I saw this as a tiny, potential obstacle. Once again though, I've discovered that I can still have the delicious things I loved as an omnivore. Everyday I become a little more confounded about why more people don't go vegan. It's fun to create new ways to make your favorite dishes without harming animals, and all with better consequences for health of the planet! Think you're leaving the world a better place for the children with your Prius? It's a good start, but being vegan would do so much more. Hippie propaganda alert! 

Moving on, have you watched the public tv channel "Create"? I've seen one of the cooking shows they feature,  Cooking with Nick Stellino, a couple times. Both times Chef Nick was making soup with a confit. He is extremely flamboyant and vivacious. Todd thinks he's obnoxious, but I adore him. He's everything I'm not...Italian, large, male, hairy...and of course super gregarious. I think that's why he appeals to me. This really has nothing to do with this post besides the confit connection. I just really wanted to share my love of Nick with you all. 

Anyways, this vegan, smoky mushroom clam chowder is ultra creamy and super thick making it very rich and hearty. It'll take your mind off the fact that you may have to jack-hammer your way into your car to get to work.


Creamy Vegan Not Clam Chowder

Inspired by Happy. Healthy. Life.

Serves 4

  • --Soup Base--
  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked
  • 2 medium red potatoes, cubed
  • 1/2 cup plain soy creamer
  • 1 cup plain soy milk
  • 1 cup fresh water
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. kelp granule seasoning(optional)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. powdered garlic
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • splash of liquid smoke
  • --Mushroom Confit--
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 10 oz. shiitake mushrooms, cut small
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • splash of liquid smoke
  • dash of kosher salt

To start, you'll need to soak the cashews. The best way to do this is overnight in the fridge, but if you're strapped for time use boiling water and soak for half an hour. When ready, drain and rinse well before use.

Next, place the cubed potatoes in a microwave safe, shallow bowl and cover with saran wrap. Microwave for about 5 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender. Set aside until ready to use.

Place all the soup base ingredients in a blender, including the soaked cashews and cooked potatoes. Blend on high for a couple minutes, until the mixture is silky smooth. Add additional water as needed to achieve your desired soup thickness or thinness. 

soup (1 of 9)soup (2 of 9)

Transfer to a soup pot and heat on low, whisking occasionally.

Now it's time to make the confit. Heat the oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the chopped mushrooms, celery, onion, and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes, turning the heat to medium-high. When almost finished cooking, sprinkle in the salt and the liquid smoke, to taste. Stir well. The confit is done when the celery is somewhat softened. The mushrooms and onions should be cooked thoroughly.  

soup (3 of 9)

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Serve a small piling of the confit in the middle of a hot bowl of the chowder and enjoy!  

soup (8 of 9) soup (7 of 9)Don't judge me...Lenka – All My Bells Are Ringing

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