Vegan Celery Root Puree Soup with Black Truffle Oil

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Food doesn’t get much easier than this.  The truffle oil is a delightful touch but not required to make this soup addictive.  Despite tasting rich & creamy – this is vegan & virtually calorie-free.   TRY IT!

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Vegan Celery Root Puree Soup with Black Truffle Oil

4 softball-sized celery roots – peeled & cubed (save a few green top leaves for garnish)

1 onion – diced

1 TBS olive oil

4 garlic cloves – minced

1 tsp white pepper

Water to cover (or stock)

Black (or white) truffle oil for drizzling

Salt to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Put the celery root cubes in a soup pot.  Add water or stock (or water with a few bouillon cubes) to cover.  Boil the celery root until soft.

Saute the onion & garlic in the olive oil until the onion is translucent.  Add the onions to the celery root & stock.  Add white pepper & puree with either an immersion blender or in batches with a regular blender.

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Add salt to taste.  Serve in bowls, drizzle with truffle oil (or not), lots of cracked pepper & a few celery leaves.

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Forbidden Black Rice & Herbed White Beans with Seared Mushrooms, Fried Sage & Black Truffle Oil

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Asian markets & birthdays.  On the surface – not much in common.  But, for me this year – both offered much culinary inspiration.  The Asian markets (often posted about here on my blog) are a wonderland of exotic ingredients, not all of which are exactly appetizing – like these giant water bugs available at Bangluck Market:

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but there are lots of other delicious things there – like this black rice:

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Four pounds for $11.  Not bad!

And my birthday netted me a pasta cutter & two new Cuisinart food processors & this array of exotic ingredients:

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including this incredible bottle of wine

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and this gorgeous little bottle of truffle oil!

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So – black rice in hand and bottle of truffle oil demanding to be tried – I looked up rice recipes.  Nothing struck me.  “Black rice & beans” most brought up images of black beans & white rice & I thought – why not make black rice with white beans?  I couldn’t find a recipe where anyone was doing what I envisioned so – I made this up.  The white beans are adapted from this recipe HERE.  Look how pretty theirs were.

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And they were perfect because they are truly white – the contrast I needed for the very inky, black rice.

I kinda made up the rice & the mushroom-sage topper.  The mushroom sage thing is a nice touch (I LOVE fried sage) but not necessary.  You could serve the rice and beans plain or with another topper – corn or peas – or with a veggie side – like I did last night – my Jack Daniels Whiskey & Honey Glazed Carrots.

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Nothing in this dish is difficult to execute.  If you don’t have fancy food rings to create a dramatic presentation, maybe use a ramekin or other bowl.   Or you could just do the traditional rice & beans serving – create a mound of rice in a bowl & then a moat made of beans – or a ring of rice with the beans center stage.  A sprig of rosemary or thyme on top & you have a gorgeous presentation.

This rice is sometimes called Forbidden Rice and here is a little info about its history & nutritional benefits.  In ancient China, black rice was considered the finest grain and only served to the Emperor, therefore, “forbidden rice,” as it was off limits for the general public.

Anyway – like the mushroom-sage topper, the black truffle oil is also unnecessary but an amazing & delicate addition to this recipe of subtle flavors.  If you can swing the cost – a small amount goes a LONG way.

Also – this will make a lot of beans – maybe more than you really need.  I quick soaked a single cup of beans & then added them to a pound of dry unsoaked beans – hence the two tone nature of the beans in my images.

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Oh – and look at this cool photo my camera took on its own!  I don’t know why – but I kinda like it.

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Lastly – this could easily be made without the cheese rind for a vegan option.

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Forbidden Black Rice & Herbed White Beans with Seared Mushrooms, Fried Sage & Black Truffle Oil

INGREDIENTS

For the mushroom & sage topper

Black truffle oil to drizzle (optional)

1 TBS butter

2 TBS olive oil

10-15 sage leaves

4 garlic cloves – minced

10-15 mushrooms – sliced

For the herbed white beans

1 lb dry small white beans

8 cloves garlic

4 sprigs rosemary (or more)

4 sprigs thyme (or more)

the rind of a hunk of Parmesan – or other form of Parmesan

Salt to taste

For the black rice

2 cups black rice

4 cups stock

1 TBS olive oil

5 garlic cloves – minced

Zest & juice of a lemon

Salt to taste

DIRECTIONS

For the herbed white beans

With kitchen string – tie up the rosemary & thyme into a bundle.

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Heat your oven to 400.

Quick soak the beans by bringing a large pot of water to a boil.  Add beans – bring back to a boil.  Remove from heat & let the beans soak, covered, for one hour.  Drain & rinse them.

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Put all the ingredients for the beans into a large dutch oven or covered casserole.  Cover with fresh water that comes about an inch over the beans.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Stir the bean & bake another 45 minutes.  The cheese rind & garlic should begin to break down.  Test the doneness of the beans & cook them in 15 minute increments.    They should be very tender in about 2 hours but your results might vary a bit – so check them after 90 minutes.  If they get too thick – add more water.  If the cheese & garlic do not break down completely, you can either blend them with a hand mixer (immersion blender) or fish them out & blend with a small amount of beans in a food processor.  I used a wooden spoon to mash some of my beans to create a thicker creamier dish.

When the beans are done – remove the herb bundle & add salt to taste.

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For the black rice

Heat the olive oil in a lark stock pan.  Saute the garlic about thirty seconds.  Add the rice & the lemon juice & zest.  Stir to coat all the rice with oil.  Add 4 cups of stock & bring to a boil.  Cook as per package directions or reduce heat to low & cook, covered, about 45-60 minutes – checking after 45 minutes for doneness.

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For the mushroom & sage topper

Heat ONE TBS of the oil oil with the butter.  Fry the sage leaves for about a minute.  Drain on a paper towel.

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Add the other TBS of olive oil & add the garlic.  Saute one minute then add the mushrooms.  Cook on high heat until the mushrooms begin to brown.  Remove from heat.

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Assemble the rice & beans as you will & then top with a bit of the mushrooms & a few fried sage leaves.  Drizzle with truffle oil.  Devour.

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Raw Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Pecans & Feta Cheese

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This is a light & pretty tasty little salad.  The ratio of Brussels Sprouts to feta is kind of up to you but I recommend going very easy with the feta (because it easily overpowers) and heavy with the toasted pecans.

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Raw Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Pecans & Feta Cheese

INGREDIENTS

1 lb Brussels Sprouts

1 cup (or more) pecans – chopped

1/4 cup lemon juice

3/4 cup olive oil

feta cheese – crumbled small

Parmesan cheese – shaved very thin (a microplane is nice here)

S&P to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Blend the olive oil & lemon juice & add some S&P.  Taste it & adjust the ratio of lemon to oil to suit your taste.

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Toast the pecans in a dry pan until fragrant.  Be careful not to burn them.

Shave the Brussels Sprouts with the slicer blade of your food processor or cut them very thin with a knife.

Toss the Brussels Sprouts with toasted pecans, a little feta & some of the dressing.  Shave Parmesan on top.  Voila!

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Arugula Bucatini & Spicy Clam Sauce

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

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To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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WordPress here hosts my blog.  They offer all sorts of cryptic analyses that are meant to help you discover where your site traffic is coming from & which search terms are effective etc.  I can’t understand most of it beyond knowing that – by a HUGE margin – my most popular recipe (according to Pinterest & the amount of repinning) is my

Decadent Vegan No Carb Summer Pasta with Zucchini Noodles, Avoocado, Asparagus & Peas

which kinda sucks because the photos on that one are kinda lame.  But the other day, a search engine term that allegedly led folks to my blog caught my eye.  It wasn’t pizza or pasta or vegan or even my name.  It was “eating plenty oxtail will make her pussy plump.”  See?   Under “search engine terms?”

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Uhm…wtf???  There is no phrase in that sentence that should bring people to MY blog!!!  I don’t think I have ever typed that P word in my blog & I know I – oh wait!  Maybe I used the word oxtail in my vegetarian pho recipe.  Nope.  I just checked.  Anyway – whoever it was that put that phrase in a search engine was very likely disappointed when they we directed to some recipe for quinoa pizza dough or cauliflower mashed potatoes.  Sorry!

As to this spicy clam sauce recipe – couldn’t be easier – couldn’t be more delicious.  You needn’t make homemade bucatini nor homemade pasta of any kind.  Dry pasta would work very well.  The key to this recipe is an overwhelming amount of canned clams.  They give a sauce a ragu quality.

Last July, I attempted to post a variation of this recipe but using fresh clams in their shells.

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Those 6 clams there changed my whole view of this recipe.  I added them once the basic white sauce was ready & tried to steam them – in a sea of what was, let’s face it, hundreds of other dead clams. It took them ten fucking minutes to die!  You can tell they are dead because their shells pop open.  If they do not pop open – they were dead when you put them in the pan and they are not fit to eat.  The Holocaust I executed in my sauce that night – steaming these six guys to their deaths as they sat neck-deep in their dead brethren – bummed me out so bad – I couldn’t eat them.  Mussels I had purchased that same day sat until they died in my fridge, untouched & waiting for their steamy deaths.  I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  Then I saw THIS:

And I was finished.

So – while I am not a casual murderer, I AM a total hypocrite in denial & I will still eat these buggers if someone else does the dirty work of murdering them for me.  And, inexplicably, I will still eat raw oysters, too.  Makes little sense – but whatever.

Overloading this dish with canned clams is tasty without requiring a distasteful act – and it is far less costly this way, too.

I bought this huge can of clams at Smart & Final.  My recipe used about half of it.

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Arugula Bucatini & Spicy Clam Sauce

Feeds 2 very well

INGREDIENTS

About 1/2- 3/4 lb pasta (or 1/2 to 3/4 of my Arugula bucatini recipe)

1-2 TBS olive oil

6 (or to taste) garlic cloves – minced

3 TBS tomato paste

8-10 small tomatoes – diced

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp crushed red pepper

1 cup clam water

3 cups canned chopped clams – drained

1 cup fresh parsley – chopped plus more for garnish

S&P to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the olive oil & add the garlic.  Stir for a minute then add the rest of the ingredients.  Saute until it thickens a bit.  If it gets to thick – add more clam juice or water.

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Cook the pasta as per instructions.

Drain & top with the spicy clam sauce.

Drink yourself stupid in an effort to un-see that clam video.

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Homemade Arugula Pasta Dough & Bucatini

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

vromans front vromans back

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Last week I posted two things on my Facebook wall that had unexpected consequences.  One was that I posted an “OMG – I MUST have this pasta cutter!” and another was an RIP announcement for my old Cuisinart food processor.  The repercussions?  On my birthday Tuesday, my friend Randy stepped up & offered me his unused Cuisinart which I gratefully accepted.  I use my food processor almost every day – often several times.  Life without one would be unimaginable.  Then, my friend Rose announced she had the pasta cutter thingy & she never used that.  She wrapped it up and gave it to me for my birthday.  AND – my mother secretly went ahead & bought me the pasta cutter, too and then a bunch of my friends got together & chipped in & bought me a brand new Cuisinart!  So – I will return the pasta cutter my mother was generous enough to send me but the second Cuisinart means no more digging through the dishwasher midway through its cleaning process to ferret out the work bowl & blades for the food processor.  Now I can have TWO working food processors going at once!  And trust me – I will.

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I got home last night at midnight with the new Cuisinart & pasta cutter and now, 11 hours later, I have slept & already used them both and created this outrageous ARUGULA BUCATINI!

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Actually – I thought I was making bucatini until I was done.  Then I saw that the blade read “small macaroni.”  But what is the difference?  Well – the bucatini press creates smooth, rather than ridged, tubes and, if you are making small macaroni, you cut the tubes shorter, obviously. But fuck it.  I’m calling this bucatini – long, hollow pasta.  If you do not have this crazy pasta cutter – you can simply roll this dough flat & thin & hand cut it with a knife and create pappardelle – like I did HERE.

I added 5 oz of arugula to the dough & voila!  Try it.  It is easy – especially if you have all these incredible kitchen devices.  If not – it can still be done – just with a bit more elbow grease.  I have several varieties of pasta posted on this blog including simple egg pasta, spinach pasta, cilantro-serrano pasta, kale pasta, lemon-pepper pasta, orecchiette, pumpkin gnocchi, beet cavatelli and beet ravioli – and each illustrates a different way to execute homemade pasta.  Some, like the cavatelli & orecchiette, are vegan and neither of these requires special tools.  Others – like today’s post – kinda require you have a few appliances.   Just know – there is an easy, homemade pasta for every level of cook – with or without fancy tools.

I realized today as I made this that I used 1) the new Cuisinart 2) the new pasta cutter 3) my bread machine & 4) my Kitchenaid stand mixer – and I realized that each of these tools were given to me by others.  What well chosen gifts they were, too!  I use – and will use – them almost every day until they die.  Or I do.  So – THANK YOU – all you folks that invested in my love of cooking!

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Arugula Pasta Dough & Bucatini

INGREDIENTS

5 oz fresh arugula

3 1/2 cups flour

4 eggs

1 tsp salt

water & extra flour for kneading

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DIRECTIONS

Blanch the arugula in boiling water for about 30 seconds, drain & run under cold water.  Squeeze out the excess water & blend the arugula with the eggs in a food processor.

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I put the flour, salt & egg-arugula mix into my bread machine & let it run a few minutes on the “pasta dough” cycle.  Alternatively, you can create a well with the flour & put the egg mix & salt in the center.  Slowly incorporate all the flour into the eggs as illustrated HERE.  Then you can roll it thin with a rolling pin & cut pappardelle like I did HERE.  Or – if you have the tools – you can cut it into a tubed pasta – as I did.

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Look at how easy this incredible thing is to use!

Let it dry and hour or more.  To cook – simply add the pasta to boiling water & cook until it floats to the surface – usually less than a minute – unless it is a more dense pasta like this.  The bucatini took over ten minutes to be al dente.   Serve with the sauce of your choice!

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Phil Miller’s Famous Cheesecake

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Phil Miller is my boyfriend, Miles’, dad.  Miles is a finicky eater – often a great source of frustration for me.  Here recently for his birthday, I wanted to provide a birthday cake situation that would make him happy.  He had long bragged about how awesome his dad’s cheesecake is – so – we opted to make that.

Here is a picture of Phil Miller:

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That is Phil channeling Burt Reynolds in the back.  Miles is that teensy peanut in the second row on the far right.  Notice that, standing, he is barely taller than the boys kneeling in front of him.  Put at such a size disadvantage, it is no surprise that Miles outgrew (or didn’t sufficiently grow into) his taste for sports.  One of my favorite details about Miles Miller is his absolute & total disinterest in professional sports.  It makes me swoon.

So – anyway – we went out & bought the ingredients for this cheesecake.  There are three levels to it: the crust, the cheesecake itself & the sour cream topping.  It takes a few steps but none of them are difficult.

My oven must need calibration because I overcooked the cheesecake level a bit & it had browned spots that showed through the topping – so I added sliced, fresh lemon in a partially successful attempt hide them.  Miles felt I had overcooked the crust, too, but, even if I did, it still tasted delicious to me!

For some reason – I couldn’t get a decent shot of this cake – so pardon the underwhelming imagery.  In no way does it reflect upon the lemony deliciousness that is Phil’s Famous Cheesecake!

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NOTE!! – Phil suggests cooling this cheesecake in the fridge overnight!

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PHIL’S FAMOUS CHEESECAKE

INGREDIENTS

For the crust

1/4 cup pecans – crushed

1/4 cup shredded coconut

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup self-rising flour

1/4 stick butter

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For the cheesecake

12 oz cream cheese – softened

4 TBS lemon juice

1 TBS vanilla

1 cup sugar

2 whole eggs

1 egg yolk

For the sour cream topping

8 oz sour cream

4 TBS sugar

2 TBS lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

For the crust

Mix the ingredients well, press into a buttered 8″ cheesecake (spring form) pan.  Bake at 375 for 10 minutes – being careful not to overcook.  Let cool for 20 minutes.  Heat oven to 400 degrees.

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For the cheesecake

Beat the ingredients well & pour on top of the cooled crust.  Bake at 400 for 35 minutes – being careful not to brown the top.  Let cool for 20 minutes.

For the sour cream topping

Mix ingredients & spread on cooled cheesecake.  Bake at 400 for 5 minutes.

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Chill in the fridge overnight.  Run a wet blade around the edge of the cake & gently remove the spring form pan.  Slice with a sharp, wet knife.  Or just eat the whole thing!

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Vegan Fennel, Leek & Corn Chowder

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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At the risk of sounding like a repetitive dullard – this chowder was born of ingredients that needed using.  I am a fan of spicy food & I made this chowder very spicy.  It is really easy to make & really yummy!  It makes a lot of soup, too, so don’t be freaked out by the coconut milk – if the calorie content of coconut milk freaks you out.  There is nothing else bad for you in this soup & you are only eating a tiny fraction of the coconut milk in each bowl…so indulge in its faux decadence!

That said – today is Valentine’s Day.  For the first time in a really long time – I have a serious boyfriend on this day & hence – for the first time in a really long time – I got a surprise delivery of flowers!!!!  YAY!!!  Look at these guys!  JUST GARGANTUAN!

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So pretty!!!

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Vegan Fennel, Leek & Corn Chowder

INGREDIENTS

3 TBS olive oil

2 large onions – diced

4 leeks – white part cut into rings

2 fennel bulbs – sliced thinly – dilly tops saved for garnish

3 corn cobs – kernels cut off – a handful of kernels set aside for garnish

3 (or less) serrano (or jalapeno) peppers – seeded & diced

4 garlic cloves – diced

zest of 1/2 lemon

1 13.5 oz coconut milk (lite – if you prefer)

6 cups vegetable stock

1 tsp (or more) crushed red pepper

1 cup – fresh cilantro – chopped – and extra for garnish

Sriracha – as garnish (optional)

S&P to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the olive oil & saute the onion, leeks, fennel & garlic until they soften – about 5 minutes.

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Just as they begin to brown a touch – add the vegetable stock, serranos, lemon zest & corn.  Bring to a boil.

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Reduce heat to low and add the coconut milk & crushed red pepper.  Simmer about 15 minutes.  Add some chopped cilantro and &P to taste.

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In batches in a blender, puree the soup.  I left about 1-2 cups of it as is (chunky) – to add some texture to the chowder.

Serve with cilantro, raw corn & the dilly parts of the fennel & plenty of cracked pepper.   Drizzle with sriracha – if using.

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