Ying and Yang – A Balanced Chowder For Vegan and Not-So Vegan

One soup recipe that I have been meaning to create for quite sometime is a chowder that is lactose-free (no milk or cream) and vegan for myself and not so vegan for my husband with salmon. I have fallen off the vegetarian wagon lately and not sure if meat is my thing once again. I feel so much better sticking to vegetarian.  I have made this chowder in the past with bacon and wine, but for last night I wanted to make it a lighter healthy bowl of soup.

The Verdict of Vegan and Not-so Vegan Chowder

This chowder is very hearty with crusty toasty bread and is milk/cream-free (I used Almond Milk for the creaminess). I did not feel like I missed any of the cream, the almond milk worked very well. And the base had just enough heat with the crushed chiles and the serano chile. This is a perfect ying yang soup recipe to make two people happy, one wanting vegan and the other not. Was very good as left overs today!

Vegan Chowder Base

Vegan Chowder Ingredients:

  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 carrots (approx 1 cup), diced small
  •  2 celery (approx 1 cup), diced small
  • 1 serano chile, seeded, finely chopped
  • 1 large red pepper (approx 1 cup), diced small
  • 4 medium red potatoes (approx 2.5 – 3 cups), diced small
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 plum tomatoes, diced small
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red chiles
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 3 teaspoon chives, finely sliced
  • dash of salt and pepper

Optional for your guest or husband who may not want to go vegan as bad as you do:

  • 1/5  pack of wild smoked salmon,  torn or cut in smaller pieces.

Vegan and Not-so Vegan Chowder Instructions:

  1. In a large pan, over medium, heat olive oil up.
  2. Add in shallot, garlic, carrot, celery, serano, crushed chile, red & yellow peppers and potatoes. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add in vegetable broth, tomato, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 25 minutes.
  4. Add the almond milk, lemon juice, and thyme to pot. Heat through until potatoes are soft, but do not boil at this point. Reduce heat to low – simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Ladle soup in bowls
  6. Garnish with chives.

Optional for your guest or husband who may not want go vegan as bad as you do:

  1. Distribute the smoked salmon to the top of bowl before the chives.

Soup Mistress Rating for Vegan and Not-so Vegan Chowder:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5
Presentation: (4.25/5) 

Taste: (4.25/5) 

Don’t Be Shrimping Out – A Seafood Chowder Delight!

Over a week ago, I had the great opportunity to cook for a wonderful couple (Joyce and Mike) from Minneapolis. We planned a fun evening to play Games Against Humanity, and boy what a hoot the evening was!

On the dinner menu along with this Seafood Chowder we had:

  • vegan cheese and pate
  • kale caesar slaw
  • phylo pastry pear tart with cashew cream.

The Verdict of This Seafood Chowder

I was very impressed of the simplistic yet so wonderful tasty broth that I used for the stock of this chowder. This was my first time to use shrimp shells as a stock. And boy they did deliver an A+ job I tell ya. I don’t think I will ever throw away shrimp shells ever again!

Also, this was my first time to cook with monkfish and everyone was impressed with the fish. When I was originally shopping at Wholefoods for all of the ingredients, I asked if I should substitiute monkfish with halibut as I was not sure about using it. The seafood department fella said that I should in fact use monkfish as it is tougher and meatier just like lobster and halibut would not be ideal as it would flake and fall apart in my chowder. I was so happy I took his advise, because monkfish was a superstar of the dish. The fish was definitely meaty, very tasty white fish and held together quite well in the chowder.

And the chowder overall was good as ever, I used the same recipe I have done in the past as I did with my Smoked Salmon Chowder with the addition of the homemade shrimp stock, shrimp. monkfish and scallops.

Seafood Chowder Ingredients

  • 200 grams diced Pancetta (or smoked bacon)
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots (approx 1 cup), diced small
  • 2 celery (approx 1 cup), diced small
  • 1 serano chile, seeded, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper (approx  3/4 cup), diced small
  • 1 yellow pepper (approx  3/4 cup), diced small
  • 4 medium red potatoes (approx 2.5 – 3 cups), diced small
  • 5 cups fish broth (recipe below)
  • 1 cup white wine (I used a Chardonnay)
  • 3 plum tomatoes, diced small
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed chilis
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and divined (keep shells for stock)
  • 1/2 pound scallops
  • 1/2 pound monkfish
  • 3 teaspoon chives, finely sliced
  • dash of salt and pepper

Shrimp Stock Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • shells from 1 pound large shrimp
  • 2 cups yellow onions
  • 2 carrots unpeeled and chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup good white wine ( I used a Chardonnay)
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme

Shrimp Stock Instructions:

  1. Warm the oil in a stockpot over medium heat.
  2. Add the shrimp shells, onions, carrots, and celery and sauté for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  3. Add the garlic and cook 2 more minutes.
  4. Add 1 1/2 quarts of water, the white wine, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour.
  5. Strain through a sieve, pressing the solids. You should have approximately 1 quart of stock. You can make up the difference with water or wine if you need to.

Seafood Chowder Instructions:

  1. Cut the seafood into bite sized pieces and put aside in a bowl.
  2. In a large pan, sauté pancetta/bacon over medium heat until brown and crisp, approximately 3-5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to plate and allow to rest.
  3. Add in shallot, garlic, carrot, celery, serano, crushed chile, red & yellow peppers and potatoes. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add in fish broth, 1 cup wine, tomatos, bring to a boil. Add almond milk. Reduce heat,  to medium-low and simmer for at least 15 -25 minutes or till potatoes are semi soft.
  5. 10 minutes before serving, bring soup back up to almost boil.
  6. Add the seafood (shrimp, scallops, monkfish); reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 7 to 10 minutes, until the fish is just cooked.
  7. Add lemon juice, thyme and bacon to pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Ladle soup in bowls
  9. Garnish with chives.

Original link on where I got the ideal to incorporate my chowder recipe with seafood and shrimp stock: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/seafood-chowder-recipe.html?oc=linkback

Soup Mistress Rating For This Seafood Chowder:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.25/5
Presentation: (4.25/5) 

Taste: (4.75/5) 

Zucchini, Red Pepper and Basil Soup – A Recipe Makeover

Zucchini and Red Pepper Basil Soup

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The completed Zucchini and Red Pepper Basil Soup

Zucchini can seem a little bland to me. I’m liking this soup makeover mostly because I added some lemon for a zing as well as a hot pepper for some pizazz. This is one of my most recent recipe makeovers. I have plans to redo many soups in the future and I will be:

  • cutting calories and trimming fat from some favorite recipes
  • adjusting so they are vegetarian, gluten-free as well as vegan – where I can
  • adjusting dried herbs for fresh herbs
  • adjusting processed foods for natural and/or organic – where I can
  • adjusting highly acidic forming recipes to be more alkaline forming (healthier for you)

This soup makeover is:

  • vegetarian
  • vegan (exclude the parmesan from recipe or use a soy-based alternative)
  • gluten-free

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups zucchini, cut in medium-sized chunks
  • 3 cups water
  • 1.5 cup chopped onion
  • 1 red or orange pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 small sweet hot pepper chopped finely (take out seeds)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup packed basil leaves chopped
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • garnished with finely chopped tomato and freshly grated parmesan

Cooking Instructions:
Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onion; sauté about 8 minutes (until onions are soft). Add chopped zucchini, red pepper and 3 cups water, after 5 minutes adjust down to a simmer (reduce heat) for about 10-15 minutes (until zucchini is soft).

Add chopped basil, lemon juice, lemon zest, hot pepper in blender and then vegetables. Puree soup in blender until very smooth (work in batches if you need to).

Return soup to pot. Add some water if you wish to thin out the soup a tad more. Simmer 5 minutes for flavors to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Garnish soup with some finely chopped tomatoes, small basil leave and freshly grated parmesan and serve.

Original Recipe that I tried and adjusted: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Zucchini-Basil-Soup-242831

What I changed from original recipe:

  • adjusted the 1/4 cup of oilve oil down to 2 tablespoons
  • adjusted 3/4 cup of onions up to 1 cup
  • added freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • added red pepper
  • added sweet hot pepper
  • added lemon zest
  • added tomato and parmesan garnish
  • omitted julienne zucchini – looked kind of odd and I wanted an alternative garnish with contrast

Soup Mistress Rating for Zucchini Basil Soup Recipe Makeover:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5)
Presentation: (4.5/5) 
Taste: (4 /5)