Monday, March 2, 2015

Winter Vegetable Chowder with Crispy Brussel Sprouts and Bacon

This should be called "almost vegetarian winter vegetable chowder," but it is not called that. The name was too long to fit in the allotted space.

That is how we should think of it though - almost vegetarian. Omit the bacon and you've got yourself a vegetarian situation. 

You could go even farther and hold the splash of milk and you'd have yourself a vegan party in a bowl.

Personally, I need the bacon in here. It adds some smoke and a meaty quality. It makes me think of this as more of a meal. Versus a bowl of flavored water and vegetables.

Actually, I could be a vegetarian, if and only if I could keep bacon and sausage. Basically anything pork. I don't really care for the other meats so much, but I do love the dirtiest meat of them all.  

There are lots of people who choose to eat all the meats but pork. I'm the opposite of that. I digress.

It is still healthy with the bacon. Bacon is good for you.

Enough talk about my love affair with bacon and other pork products. This recipe is flexible. I went heavy on the cauliflower because I love cauliflower. Love it.

You could use some celery root, squash, sweet potatoes. Whatever floats your boat.

I added a can of white beans to thicken it up and for a bit of protein. It is finished with some lemon juice, for brightness. 

Lemon truly brightens the whole thing up. Don't skip it. If you forgot to buy a lemon, substitute a splash of cider vinegar. It gets finished off with a small splash of milk too for creaminess.

The chowder is fairly creamy all on its own, but it is no cows milk creamy. You know what I mean? Love me some dairy. Again you can be flexible, work with what you have and like.

The crispy sprouts on top add a little color and texture. I love brussel sprouts. They are the best. Even better with crumbled bacon. I think this would be great with some crumbled goat cheese on top. Be creative. 

Reheating this was a breeze too. It thickens up though. Add some water to thin it out or do like me and pour it over some rice. Variety and flexibility. Words we should all live by.

One word of caution, easy on the salt. Taste as you go. The mustard and lemon combine for a pleasantly salty vibe, but you don't want to go crazy. Not the mention canned beans can have a lot of added salt too.


for the chowder:
3 slices, bacon
1 large cooking onion, small dice (1 3/4 cups)
1 leek, small dice (white + light green part only)
6 cloves of garlic, minced

2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
4-5 thyme sprigs, leaves removed and chopped
1-2 parsnips, peeled and chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1 large head of small-chopped cauliflower florets
1 ½ tbsp grainy mustard
salt + pepper to taste
1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning

1 can (16 oz) can white beans, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup lemon juice
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock

1/3 cup heavy cream 

for the crispy brussel sprouts:
10 brussel sprouts, sliced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Heat a large, heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the bacon, cooking 8 to 10 minutes, until crispy. Remove and drain bacon, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the pan, setting the bacon aside for later. 
Add the diced onions to the pot and sauté until soft and translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add the leeks and continue to sauté until the leeks are soft, about 4 minutes more. Add the minced garlic and thyme to the pot and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the chopped parsnips and cauliflower florets to the pot and stir to coat in the oil. Add the grainy mustard, salt + pepper to taste, and Old Bay. Stir to coat all the vegetables in spice. 
Add the lemon juice to the pot and stir. Add the vegetable stock to the pot, stir again, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove the lid and lower heat to simmer. Let the chowder cook and bubble until the parsnips and celery root pieces are tender, about 15-18 minutes.
Ladle half of the chowder into an upright blender, with the white beans, and carefully purée until smooth. Pour puréed portion of chowder back into the soup pot and bring it back to a boil. Reduce heat to low, adding the cream, stirring to combine. Check the chowder for seasoning, adjust and serve hot. (you could also use an immersion blender, be careful to leave enough whole vegetable pieces.)
While the chowder is simmering/cooking, make the crispy Brussels sprouts. Place the sliced sprouts onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Pour the 2 tsp of olive oil over top, season with salt and pepper and a generous pinch of Old Bay seasoning. Toss lightly to combine and spread sprouts evenly on the baking sheet. Slide the sheet into the oven and roast for 10 to 12 minutes, or until browned on the and crispy. You'll want to stir them once while they are roasting. Serve warm sprouts on top of the hot vegetable chowder, with crumbled bacon.

Adapated from The First Mess


  1. Wait til you experience pork at slo pig later this month.

  2. Is Old Bay Seasoning a type of all purpose seasoning? I've never heard of it so just wondering where I can find it or what kind of substitute I should use.

    1. Old Bay Seasoning makes me think of the East Coast and seafood. It is used in crawfish and shrimp boils, crabs. It can be used on potatoes, gumbo, fried chicken and so on. It is readily available in the grocery store or you can make it at home.



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