Easy vegan corn chowder

Autumn has arrived, blown in on a cold wind that’s a bit of a shock after the warm weather of the last month. Chilly weather always makes me want comforting soup, something that will gives a big hug and warm me up right down to my toes.

This sweet corn chowder is perfect for that. Most corn has been harvested by now, but you might still find some fresh cobs in the shop, sweet and deliciously golden. If not, then frozen sweet corn is a close second best as, like peas, the kernels are harvested and frozen in super quick time to preserve both flavour and nutrient benefits.

I grew my first sweet corn this year in my new veggie patch. It was fascinating to see how quickly they grew, and how they developed. They also seemed very popular with the local ants, but they didn’t damage it. The biggest challenge was knowing when to harvest it. As you can see, not all the kernels had ripened at one end, although they were super ripe at the other. But it tasted absolutely awesome when freshly harvested.

There’s a surprising amount of nutritional goodies in sweet corn. Yes there is sugar (which of course makes it so tasty) but this is all bound up in fibre, so it’s released more slowly, meaning you get a more stable blood sugar. There’s also a lot of insoluble fibre in sweet corn kernels, the type the friendly bacteria in your gut just love to dine on – a tasty treat for you and your microbiome!

Eating yellow foods means you are consuming flavonoids, powerful phytonutrients that support your skin, mucous membranes and eyes. They also have strong antioxidant properties, as has ferulic acid, another phytonutrient that has anti-inflammatory properties thought to help with preventing cancer and slow the ageing process (something I think we’re all interested in 😉 )

Traditional sweet corn chowder recipes tend to include a load of cream, butter and even bacon – you’ll find none of those in my dairy-free vegan version! The creaminess comes from the sweetcorn and potato plus whatever dairy-free milk you choose to use. If you want a little kick to warm your toes, then add some chilli flakes both when cooking and as a garnish if you like. My ‘secret’ ingredient is celery salt. This is a fantastic ingredient to keep in the cupboard as it provides a lovely savoury flavour to dishes. It almost tastes like chicken soup. And so nourishing, it’s perfect if you’re feeling a bit under the weather.

I hope you enjoy this recipe – it’s very easy and so tasty! If you give it a go, don’t forget to let me know.

Easy vegan corn chowder

A simple and delicious filling corn chowder that can be made with fresh corn in season or frozen kernels all year round
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Servings 4 portions

Ingredients
  

  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes cut into small chunks
  • 2 fat cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 400 ml vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes optional
  • pinch celery salt
  • 400 ml dairy free milk of choice
  • 2 cobs sweetcorn, kernals removed or 300g frozen sweetcorn
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Heat a couple of tablespoons of water in the base of a large pan. Add the onion and potato with a pinch of salt. Sauté on a low heat with the lid on for 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook for another minute before pouring in the stock. Sprinkle in the chilli flakes and celery salt and stir well. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on until the potato is soft.
  • Add the sweetcorn and dairy free milk. Bring back to the boil then simmer for another 5 minutes until the sweetcorn is cooked. Keep an eye on the pan though as the dairy-free milk might boil over.
  • Turn off the heat. Using a stick blender, whizz the soup until half is pureéd but leave a little texture. Season with salt and pepper then serve with a little extra chilli on top if you like it spicy!
Keyword dairy free, gluten free, healthy soup, OMS friendly, vegan

Sweet potato and bean soup

Autumn is definitely here.  Crisp mornings with air that tingles the end of your nose, leaves turning an array of colours before they drop to the ground in a pile ready to be jump in. Or, more sadly, stormy grey days with enough rain to send you into the back of the cupboard to hunt out the wellies. But whatever the weather, autumn is also time for thick, soul-soothing soup. Continue reading “Sweet potato and bean soup”

Spaghetti squash and lentil bake

If you only shop in a main-stream supermarket, you could be forgiven for thinking there is only one type of squash – butternut. Not that I have anything against them, they are gorgeous! But there are so many others to choose from that it’s a shame not to experiment.

Every autumn, I order a squash box from Riverford. They grow a variety of different squashes and it’s great fun trying them all out. Fortunately, they come with a handy leaflet so you can identify which is which. For whilst most squashes have a solid flesh, spaghetti squash does not, and it can ruin a recipe if you accidentally choose the wrong one (she says from previous experience!).

Spaghetti squash looks from the outside like a normal type of gourd – long, oval-shaped with a pale yellow or dark ivory coloured outer skin. When you cut them in half, the flesh is a pale yellow, and looks solid. But once cooked, it’s a whole different story! The flesh fragments and comes away in long thin strips, very similar to spaghetti but a completely different texture. In fact, there are a number of recipes that use spaghetti squash as a pasta replacement. It works well, as long as the squash is not over-cooked – if that happens, it becomes rather watery and indistinct.

Being part of the squash family, spaghetti squash is still packed with betacarotene, folic acid and potassium. It has a light, sweet flavour – nowhere near as sweet as other squashes or pumpkin though. I think it pairs brilliantly with green lentils and sage; this recipe is a super-tasty comforting autumnal dish that jointly makes the spaghetti squash and lentils the centre of attention.

Spaghetti squash and lentil bake – serves 4

1 large or two small spaghetti squash
2 small leeks
2 medium carrots
1 large celery stick
2 bay leaves
4 medium mushrooms
1 clove of garlic, crushed
400g tin of cooked green lentils
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (make sure it’s vegan) or tamari
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 tablespoon dried sage
salt and pepper to taste
Topping:
4 tablespoons breadcrumbs (fresh/dried/gluten free)
2 tablespoons dairy-free parmesan (click here for recipe)

Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4. Chop the spaghetti squash in half and de-seed. Wrap the halves in foil and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until soft and the flesh starts to come away with a fork. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly.

In the meantime, finely chop the leek, carrots and celery stick. Heat a couple of tablespoons of water or olive oil in the bottom of a medium sized saucepan and sauté the vegetables with the bay leaves until they start to soften slightly. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for another minute. Dilute the tomato puree with a little water and pour into the pan with the Worcestershire sauce. Stir well. Drain and rinse the lentils, then add to the pan with the sage and season with salt and pepper. Stir will, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until all the vegetables are well cooked and the flavours developed. Turn off the heat and remove the bay leaves.

Make the topping by combining the breadcrumbs with the dairy-free parmesan. Put to one side.

Once the spaghetti squash has cooled slightly, scrape the flesh out with a fork and add it to the cooked lentil mix. Take care not to damage the skin. Gently combine the squash with the lentil mix. Check the flavour and add more seasoning or herbs if needed. Spoon the mix back into the squash skin shells, distributing evenly, and sprinkle the breadcrumb mix over the top. Put back in the oven to bake for another 15 minutes until the top is crispy and lightly browned.

Serve with green veg and mashed potato (if you’re really hungry!). Enjoy.