The other night, we had a friend come over for dinner last-minute. I had already planned on making potato leek soup but wanted to step it up for our guest. So I took my simple potato soup and turned it into a seafood chowder by adding some baby clams, scallops and calamari. That would have been enough to make it entertaining-worthy but I took it a little farther by making a bacon and vegetable garnish, restaurant-esque. I liken this recipe to your favourite pair of jeans – they can be dressed up with fab shoes and accessories or dressed down to go to the movies. Versatile and classic.
Do you remember the movie ‘The Devil Wears Prada’? There’s a memorable scene when Anne Hathaway’s character is buying lunch and her new colleague informs her “… that cellulite is one of the main ingredients in… chowder.” A total mean girl moment, yet kind of true. Most chowders are full of heavy cream and butter and while delicious, aren’t very good for the heart or the hips. I figured I’d make a healthier version that would still satisfy the cravings and can be enjoyed by lactose free/vegetarian/vegan folks alike.
This skinnier version of potato leek soup is dairy/gluten/guilt free. Blending up the potatoes creates a creamy base and lots of onions and leeks amp up the flavour so you don’t even notice the lack of cream. Friends and family who’ve tried it can’t believe how tasty it is and always go back for second helpings. You can make any version of this recipe: just the soup, added seafood to make a chowder, and/or the bacon garnish. Depending on your mood, pantry and the crowd you’re feeding, you’ll definitely having a winner with some combination of this recipe.
This makes a pretty huge serving but it freezes well and leftovers make satisfyingly simple mid-week meals; or the recipe can be halved. Don’t forget, your guests wouldn’t mind a serving to take home like our friend did. Who knew that the ultimate parting gift could be a yummy bowl of soup?
Potato Leek Soup (Dairy-free)
- 2 lbs Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into 3/4” dice
- 2 cups sliced leeks, white part only
- 4 tbsp vegan butter
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 6 cups chicken stock, preferably low-sodium (vegetable stock for vegetarian option)
- Pinch of chili powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped chives to garnish
Seafood Chowder (Optional)
- 3 cups seafood (scallops, squid, mussels, shrimp, 3/4″ diced fish)
- 1 can baby clams, including liquid (142 grams or 5 ounces)
Bacon & Vegetable Garnish (Optional)
- 3 large slices of bacon, diced
- 1 stalk of celery, finely diced
- ½ onion, finely diced
- 1 tsp vegan butter or olive oil
- 1 tbsp chives, finely chopped
- To prepare leeks, slice leeks into rings and separate. Soak in a large bowl of cold water for a few minutes and rinse. Scoop them out and drain.
- Heat a large pot to medium high heat and add butter. When butter has melted, add leeks, onions, celery, garlic, and potatoes. Saute for about 5 minutes, or until the leeks are softened, stirring often to prevent sticking.
- Add the broth and chili powder. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for about 20 minutes. Stor occasionally. Potatoes should be quite soft. Remove from heat.
- Using an immersion blender or blender, puree potatoes until soup is creamy. Add chives and stir through. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
- Seafood Chowder Option: add mixed seafood, and clams including liquid to the soup. Bring to boil. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
- Bacon and Vegetable Garnish Option: In a medium frying pan on medium heat, add butter or oil. Add onion, celery and bacon and sautee until bacon and vegetables are browned. Remove from heat and add chives.