Vegan Potato, Leek, Fennel & Turnip Soup with Carrots & Pepitas

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

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

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This soup is very easy & guiltless & comforting & delicious.  I roasted the turnips because I was roasting other veggies & just included them.  Once they were done, I though – why not add them to this soup.  You could roast all the veggies n this soup first, if you wanted to, but that is not necessary.  There is enough flavor going on without that extra step.  The vegetables I used were random & included simply because I had them around.  You can add or delete ingredients according to your taste or what you have handy.

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Vegan Potato, Leek, Fennel & Turnip Soup with Carrots & Pepitas

Makes about 8 cups

INGREDIENTS

3 TBS vegan butter

1 large fennel bulb – chopped (reserve some fronds for garnish)

1 large leek – sliced

1 zucchini – sliced

2 celery stalks – chopped (reserve a few celery leaves for garnish

3 large potatoes – peeled & cubed

3 small turnips – chopped

4 carrots – sliced

4 cups vegetable stock

2 TBS fresh oregano (plus maybe a bit extra for garnish)

2 TBS fresh thyme (plus maybe a bit extra for garnish)

Vegan milk (I used unsweetened almond milk) – maybe a cup or so

S&P

Pepitas as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

I like a few chunks in my pureed soups so – if you do, too – take one carrot & one potato (both cubed) & boil until soft.  Drain & set aside.

If you want the soup completely pureed – skip that step.

Heat the butter in a large stock pot.  Add the chopped, raw veggies & saute until soft.  Add the stock & herbs (no need to chop the herbs) & bring to a boil.

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Very carefully, in batches, blend the soup smooth.  I added just enough almond milk to each batch so that it blended very smoothly.  Reheat.  Add the boiled carrots & potatoes.  Ladle into bowls & garnish with celery leaves or fennel fronds & some pepitas.  Add some cracked pepper.  Enjoy!

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Vegan or Vegetarian Poutine with Vegan Mushroom, Leek & Sage Brown Gravy plus Emily Valentine, 90210, Puddles Pity Party & Chucky!

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

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

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It has been an exciting few weeks.  First of all – I attended Rewind Convention in Chicago for an 80’s-90’s TV & film thingy & lotsa the 90210 folks were there.  It was great seeing them!

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It was as cool as seeing the Child’s Play 2 cast – which I did in September.  Coolest of all was seeing the 90210: The Musical in NYC!   It runs thru Dec. 17 so – if you live near NYC & love 90210 – you MUST go see it.  Here is a little peek:

Is that not BRILLIANT?  I have to say – this homage was as surreal as it was flattering.  Truly – a highlight of my career – to have a character I created recreated by others.  REALLY fun.

Then I got to see & MEET Puddles!!!   If you are unfamiliar – you are really missing out.  He is a 6’8″ sad clown with a truly golden voice!   See him if you ever get the opportunity.

So – it has been an incredible fall for me!

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Oh!  And there is more!   I had a few lines on a new TV show!   See above.  Only a few lines but they were with Topher Grace (swoon!) and Ray Romano – so – that did not suck.  Even the 5am call time was made OK because it was at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery!  And Topher Grace was VERY generous & confessed to having been a big 90210 fan, back in the day.  It is always comforting when other actors acknowledge being aware of you and your work.  And I am a huge fan of Topher’s so – yeah.  That was fun!

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So – yeah – a fun-filled autumn.

So – I realized this week that I am becoming a hoarder.  A food hoarder.  I have moth issues so I like to keep all my dry goods (beans, rice, sugar, flour, pasta etc) in the fridge or freezer.  Still – they keep putting that Di Martino pasta on sale for .79 cents a pound!  I cannot afford NOT to buy it!  So – as I was shoving my twentieth pound of overflow dry goods into my pantry – I saw my pantry.  Really saw it.

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Those drawers are DEEP.  I have enough food in there to last years and I live ALONE!  I have every condiment from American standards to those needed for Thai or Indian or whatever-the-fuck food.  There are about 20 jars of Rao’s Arrabbiata pasta sauce and at least 20 pounds of dry pasta & every kind of canned bean & oil or vinegar of whatever you can think of.  If you can name it – I probably have more than one container of it and if it comes in varieties – I will have several.  I even have canned tuna & meats for my dogs.  It is a fucking problem.

Another problem is that I recently watched the amazing Food Choices documentary.  Click that to watch the trailer.  I already eat about 90% vegan – with cheese being my final hurdle.  The movie really drove home, for me, the idea that eating cheese is really no better than eating meat.  It requires the same suffering & death (of baby calves) – making cheese consumption on par with veal.  I would NEVER eat veal & even silently judge those I hear order it.  Yet – cheese is still on my plate.

So – I went to the farmers’ market in Hollywood the past crisp & gorgeous Sunday morning hoping to find the Soledad Goat folks & buy vegan cheese from them.  They were not there (but I discovered & purchased their cheezes online HERE this week & bought several) – but, like an asshole, I let myself be drawn to the local REAL cheese guy’s table.  I have been longing to experiment with a poutine recipe but have never seen cheese curds anywhere.  I was not even sure what they were.  But – he had them.  They are:

From Wikipedia:

Cheese curds, in cuisine or cooking, are the solid parts of curdled milk either eaten alone or used in various regional dishes mostly in Canada and the northeastern and midwestern United States. They are sometimes referred to as “squeaky cheese“.

Cheese curds start off with fresh milk. The milk is pasteurized, much like in the process of creating cheese. During this process, rennet is added to clot the milk. After the milk has been pasteurized, the result is a mixture of whey and the early stages of the curd. This mixture is then cooked. Next, it is pressed to release the whey from the curd, thus creating the final product of cheese curd.

Characteristics

Their flavor is mild, but can differ in taste depending on the process in which it was made. It has about the same firmness and density as cheese, but with a springy or rubbery texture. Fresh curds squeak against the teeth when bitten into, a defining characteristic due to air trapped inside the porous material. This “squeak” has been described by the New York Times as sounding like “balloons trying to neck”. After 12 hours, even under refrigeration, cheese curds lose much of their “fresh” characteristic, particularly the “squeak”.[4] Keeping them at room temperature can preserve the squeakiness.

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While I debated buying those – he insisted I taste his sage-cheddar.  I did.  It was delicious.  I caved & bought the sage cheese & the curds.  Here are some of his other cheeses & some info on him.

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I also headed to the Korean table because they make the MOST INSANELY DELICIOUS TEMPEH!  I bough two of those.  And a fennel bulb.  Then I became overwhelmed by the choices, the number of vendors peddling produce and, frankly, the prices.  These markets are not cheap.  So – I scuttled home with the tempeh, the guilty cheese & the fennel.

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Several years ago, I realized I had stockpiles of food that were getting out of control.  I did an experiment & tried to ONLY eat what I already had, in an effort to spend ZERO on groceries in one month.  I managed to almost do it but I had to spend a few dollars here and there for non-dairy creamer & stuff.  But – I bought no produce so – after a week or so – I was fresh outta fresh produce & was reduced to eating pastas, rices & breads that I had frozen.  As I state in my novel – and all beige diet has consequences.   I will let you guess what I mean but let’s just say it is very different than, say, an all-BEET diet.  My friends knew I was doing this and began panicking.  Two different people delivered bags of produce to my door.  When I attempted this pantry-emptying plan a second time – again – one of those friends delivered produce to my door.  VERY VERY sweet!  But – I was not on a hunger strike.  I was just challenging myself to stop hoarding & being wasteful of perishables.

So – as I launch into my third effort to spend zero on groceries (wine being an exception – and eating in restaurants doesn’t count, either) – I will still allow myself my regular twice-monthly delivery of produce from Farm Fresh to You.  That way – my friends won’t be wringing their hands, terrified that my bones are crumbling & my skin is falling off or whatever it is they fear.   I will attempt to keep a log of what I eat & what money I spend.  Yesterday – I spent just under $10 at Carneys.  I had a Garden burger & fries.  For dinner – a small salad.

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Today’s breakfast.  That is the best almond milk – in my opinion.  And vegans, beware!  Those Morning Star sausages are only vegetarian – not vegan!  Bear with me – these posts will get more and more creative as I am forcing myself to eat what I have without buying anything – for a month!   We will see how it goes.

OK – on to the POUTINE!  I do not think I have ever had poutine but the idea appeals to me.  You can use fresh cheese curds (as I did) or mozzarella or VEGAN cheese – like this amazing stuff below.

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That little bag costs $8 but is the best & meltiest vegan mozzarella I have found – after my own homemade vegan mozzarella – seen below.

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OK – so – you can make poutine using frozen fries & canned gravy & make this very easily.  I opted to MAKE the fries as I describe HERE.  And – I made a new vegan gravy because my other vegan gravy does not have the rich & dark color I wanted for the poutine.

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So – first up – the

Vegan Mushroom, Leek & Sage Brown Gravy

INGREDIENTS

5 TBS vegan butter

2 cups chopped mushrooms

1 leek

ten or more sage leaves

1/2 cup flour

6 cups vegetable stock

2 TBS soy sauce (or tamari or liquid aminos)

2 tsp Kitchen Bouquet

Chives – chopped for garnish (optional)

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DIRECTIONS

Finely chop the mushrooms & leek.  I pulsed them in my food processor.  If you do not own one – maybe just blend the finished gravy to make it smooth.

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Heat the stock in a soup pan.  Add the soy sauce & kitchen bouquet.  Simmer.

In another pan, melt FOUR of the five tablespoons of the butter & saute the vegetables until soft.  Add the flour & stir to combine.  Add the stock 1/2 to 1 cup at at time – over high heat – until the gravy thickens.  If it is too thin once you add all the stock – just boil it down a bit.

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Melt the remaining TBS of butter & fry the sage leaves a minute or two.  Drain them on a paper towl & crumble.  Add to the gravy.  Add the leftover sage butter to the gravy.  Voila!

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Vegan or Vegetarian Poutine with Vegan Mushroom, Leek & Sage Brown Gravy

INGREDIENTS

French fries – either THESE homemade, or your recipe or frozen ones

Gravy – either the recipe above or your favorite one

Cheese curds or grated cheese or vegan cheese

Chives or parsley as garnish

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Once the fries are crispy & the gravy is warm – assemble the poutine:  fries, cheese, gravy & some chives or parsley.  Shove’m in your pie hole fast – before they get soggy.  Or – you can just dip fries & cheese in gravy.

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Cauliflower Noodle Lasagna with Herbed Goat Cheese Bechamel and Garlicky Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms and Arugula Pistachio Pesto (No Carb – No Pasta)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

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

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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Did you happen to miss my appearance on Nicole Richie’s show –#CandidlyNicole @VH1? No worries! Here it is! I show up HERE after the break – about 16 minutes in!
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AND – if you missed my hour-long Oh, Mary! Show appearance this week – well – you are in LUCK! Here are all four segments! LOTSA dirty talk! Many laughs!

Here you go!

http://jlcn.tv/shows/oh-mary/mary-episode-26-segment-01/

http://jlcn.tv/shows/oh-mary/mary-episode-26-segment-02/

http://jlcn.tv/shows/oh-mary/mary-episode-26-segment-03/

http://jlcn.tv/shows/oh-mary/mary-episode-26-segment-04/

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OK – in all fairness – this recipe has a lot of steps.  Without a food processor – it might be too much of a pain in the ass to attempt.  If you have a food processor & an afternoon to kill – this might be a fun project.  It is pretty delicious – though not particularly healthy – despite the no-carb noodles made from cauliflower.  This could be made vegan by subbing out the animal products with vegan alternatives but I will leave that to the motivated vegans out there.  I don’t think I have to say “or vegan alternative” after every egg, butter or cheese ingredient for the vegans to work it out.

I used leftover arugula & pistachio pesto that I still had from my Arugula Pistachio Pesto Pasta with Goat Cheese and Ricotta Salata.

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You can make this or any other pesto – or use a store-bought one.

Arugula Pistachio Pesto

This makes enough for at least a pound or two of pasta but it keeps well in an air-tight container in the fridge.

INGREDIENTS

6 oz fresh arugula

2 garlic cloves

1/2 cup Parmesan

1/4 cup pistachios (or other nuts)

1/4-1/2 cup olive oil

DIRECTIONS

I used 1/4 cup olive oil & 1/4 cup of water to thin the pesto.  1/2 cup of oil just seems crazy to me – but you can go all oil if you want to.

Blend into a pesto in a food processor – starting with just the 1/4 cup of olive oil.  Drizzle more (or water) in as it purees until you get the consistency you like.  Set aside.

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I made a homemade bechamel but you could use a store-bought alfredo & get much the same results.

I used chopped mushrooms, leeks & Brussels sprouts – but any mix of sauteed vegetable would work.

I used this pink Himalayan salt that I have become obsessed with but any salt will do.  And I used the Dash Onion & Herb seasoning but any Italian seasoning (or mix of onion & garlic powders) would be fine.

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I used cauliflower “noodles” in this but real lasagna noodles work, too.

No-Carb Lasagna Noodles

INGREDIENTS

1 large head cauliflower – riced (about 10 cups)

3 eggs

1 tsp salt

1 TBS seasoning (see above)

1 TBS oregano

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

I used a silicone cooking mat treated with cooking spray but greased parchment paper should work, too.  Know that this stuff STICKS  – even to the greased silicone mat – so – slather your cooking shit up.

Take the cauliflower & grate it up with the grater blade of a food processor – or with a manual grater – or get to chopping by hand until it has a rice-like look.

You can zap this in the microwave in 2 minute increments – stirring in between – until it softens but I loathe nuking things.  I submerged the cauliflower in boiling water for about 5 minutes & then drained it in a colander under cold running water.

Once it is cool, in small batches, twist the cauliflower up in a kitchen town & wring as much moisture out of it as you can.

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Then simply mix it up in a large bowl with the other ingredients & press it onto your well-greased cooking sheet (see images above).  Bake it for about 45 minutes or until it begins to brown & is cooked pretty dry.  Set aside & allow it to cool.

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Garlicky Sauteed Brussels Sprouts, Mushrooms & Leeks

I made the mushrooms & leeks first & then decided to add Brussels sprouts so my photos might show a different cooking sequence but it can be done as I will outline now.

INGREDIENTS

Olive oil

2 leeks – white sections only – chopped small

1/2 lb mushrooms – diced

1 lb Brussels sprouts – chopped or sliced fine

1 tsp each S&P

2 garlic cloves – minced

1/4 cup fresh parsley – chopped

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DIRECTIONS

It is important to cut the leeks & mushrooms & Brussels sprouts small so they do not stay too chunky & impede clean slicing of the lasagna.

I chopped the mushrooms & leeks & ran the Brussels sprouts through the slicer of my food processor.

Heat 2 (or so) TBS olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat & saute the Brussels sprouts until they begin to brown a bit.  Add /4 water & steam them soft.  Once the water is absorbed or evaporated – add the leeks & mushrooms & saute until tender – maybe 5 minutes.  Stir in the S&P & the minced garlic and the parsley.  Saute another minute & remove from heat.  Set aside.

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Herbed Goat Cheese Bechamel

INGREDIENTS

2 cups almond (or other) milk

3 TBS butter

3 TBS flour

2 garlic cloves – minced

8-10 oz goat cheese – room temp

2 TBS chives (or other herb) – minced (optional)

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DIRECTIONS

Melt butter in a soup pan over med-high heat.  Add the flour & garlic & whisk constantly until it thickens, begins to brown & becomes aromatic – maybe 2 minutes.

Add the milk in 1/4 cup increments & whisk it in until it incorporates & thickens before adding more milk.  This should take maybe 5 minutes.

Add the goat cheese & chives & whisk until the goat cheese melts.  Set aside.

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Cauliflower Noodle Lasagna with Herbed Goat Cheese Bechamel and Garlicky Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms and Arugula Pistachio Pesto

INGREDIENTS

Cauliflower “noodles” (recipe above) or real (cooked) lasagna noodles

1 cup pesto (recipe above) – or any pesto you prefer

Garlicky mushrooms, leeks & Brussels sprouts (recipe above) – or any cooked veggie mix you prefer

2-3 cups grated cheese (I used mozzarella)

Several hunks of fresh (packed in water) mozzarella (optional)

Parsley – chopped (as garnish)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

My photos show this lasagna cooked once & photographed & then reheated for a new photo session – hence the paler & more golden cheesy tops.

Prep your ingredients.  Cut the cauliflower “noodles” into three equal portions – or however you can to get some layer-able “noodles.”  Never fear if they break apart & stick a lot.  Patch the pieces in & nobody will ever know the difference.

Assemble the lasagna.  I started with a layer of bechamel (whisk it smooth if a skin has formed while it waited).  Then I added the layers in this order:

1/3 of the cauliflower noodles

1/2 of the pesto

1/2 of the veggies

1/3 of the bechamel

another 1/3 of the cauliflower noodles

the other 1/2 of the pesto

the other 1/2 of the veggies

another 1/3 of the bechamel

Grated cheese – in an amount that looks good to you – I used about 1/2 – 3/4 cup

the final 1/3 of the cauliflower noodles

the rest of the bechamel

More grated cheese & some fresh mozzarella – if you are using it

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 Bake that son-of-a-bitch fr 25-45 minutes or until the cheese is melted & bubbly & looks the color you want it to look – whether JUST starting to brown at the edges – or a bit golden all over.
Let it rest for 10 minutes or so.  Garnish with chopped parsley & eat it up!!!!

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Vegan Mashed Garlic Cauliflower with Caramelized Leeks

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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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Enter to win one of five free copies of my book!!!

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Mashed cauliflower is even easier than mashed potatoes & can be varied just as many ways.  This is a simple side dish with lots of flavor.  And better yet – you can regrow fresh leeks with just the end you were going to throw away & a little water.  Find out how HERE.

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Vegan Mashed Garlic Cauliflower with Caramelized Leeks

INGREDIENTS

3 leeks – tough green part cut away & the rest chopped & WASHED (leeks are dirty) and drained well

RESERVE THE END TO REGROW!  See how HERE.

2 TBS olive oil

1 tsp brown sugar

Pinch of salt

1 head cauliflower – stem & leafy part cut away

2 cloves chopped garlic

S&P

Stock or vegetable bouillon

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan.  If your leeks are really wet, dry them a bit in a kitchen towel then saute them in the oil over med-low heat.  Add the sugar & salt & saute for about 20 minutes or so.  Stir them a lot & be sure they do not burn.  They are done when they look about like this:

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Meanwhile – boil the cauliflower in enough stock (or water with some bouillon) until very soft – maybe 15 minutes.  You might want to saute the garlic for about 30 seconds to a minute in olive oil or butter but I used it raw.

Reserve about a cup of the cauliflower water & drain the cauliflower well.  Using a manual masher or a mixer puree the cauliflower like you would with potatoes.  Add the garlic and S&P to taste.  You may or may not need the reserved cauliflower water.  This depends on the moisture already in the cauliflower & your particular preference as to texture.  If you want them to be richer, blend in some butter, cream or cream cheese (or vegan alternatives).

Top with the caramelized leeks & devour!

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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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