Saturday, November 5, 2011

Southwestern Vegetable Chowder

A lot of people seem to think that a vegetarian diet equals a healthy diet.

Um, no.

French fries are vegetarian.  So is most cake.

Believe me, I have managed to pack on pounds as an omnivore, as a vegetarian, and even as a vegan.  But now and again I get bit with the weight-loss bug.  Now would be one of those times.

Here's the rub:  I really like to eat.  So does Mr. Wendy.  When I try to lose weight, I up the exercise (thank you to my walking buddy, Melissa Bourbon) and work at making my usual tasty dishes a little more heart- and waist-line-friendly.

Take this yummy Southwestern Vegetable Chowder.  The original is a creamy, cheesy corn soup from the Sundays at the Moosewood cookbook.  For this slimmed-down version, I swapped butter for a tiny bit of canola oil, filled out the soup with some carrots and cauliflower, and used instant mashed potato flakes to thicken the soup without cheese or rich dairy (an old trick from my vegan days).  The result is thick and comforting, a wonderful balance of salty and sweet, with the subtle crunch of the corn offsetting the creaminess of the soup base.

For those of you counting your calories or, like me, following a certain alliterative weight loss regimen, the recipe makes 6 two-cup servings.  Ish.

Southwestern Vegetable Chowder

2 tsp. canola oil
1 c. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
2  c. diced carrot
1 jalepeno, seeded and minced
1/4 tsp. salt
3 c. vegetable broth (or 3 c. water with 1 1/2 vegetable bullion cubes)
1 Tbs. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 - 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
24 oz. peeled potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch dice
4 c. small cauliflower florets
16 oz. fresh or frozen corn kernels
3/4 c. instant mashed potato flakes (plain, not butter-flavored)

Optional garnishes:  plenty of freshly ground black pepper, low fat shredded cheddar, and/or meatless "bacon" bits

In a large stock pot, heat canola oil over medium heat.  Add onions, garlic, jalepeno, carrot, and salt; saute until onion is very soft (about 10 minutes).  Add cumin and coriander.  Then, add potatoes, cauliflower, and water/bullion or stock.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, until potato and cauliflower are tender.  Add tomatoes, corn, and mashed potato flakes.  Heat through.

When the chowder cools, the soup becomes very thick.  When reheating the leftovers (if there are any), you may need to add additional water or vegie broth.


Wendy (aka Annie Knox) is the author of the Mysteries a la Mode. Visit her on the web or on Facebook.


  1. It sounds yummy and perfect for cold weather.

  2. Wendy,

    You really do come up with some great recipes. And that picture sent my WTO ah in an uproar for food! Although I'm not sure how good hat is for my diet;)

  3. That's suppose to say stomach, but I guess WTO ah will work;) the hat is another story...

  4. Wendy, this sounds great even for people who aren't dieting. I love using instant potatoes to thicken it. Very clever!

    ~ Krista

  5. it sounds and looks absolutely yummiful!!

    unfortunately, most things I try my hand at in the kitchen could easily be used as a lethal weapon in any good mystery!! lol.

    I'm going to have to save the recipe and convince anyone who has been known to cook without causing illness to invite me over and test the recipe!

    and as for the books - Loved them - Recommended them to a stranger in the book store a couple of weeks ago - and then scolded the manager for having books two and three but not one!! what can I say - you can take the girl out of NY but you can't take NY out of the girl - we live to tell other people what to do - LOL.

  6. It's cold here...sounds like perfect chowder weather to me! Thanks for this, Wendy!

  7. You always have the best recipes. Sounds yummy! Good luck on the trim-down but you're perfect as you are!!

  8. I should not have come over here before lunch. This has made my mouth water.