Monday, November 24, 2008

Low-fat Chowder?

Since it was gawd-awful cold here yesterday morning (according to the spouse - to me, it was a typical western PA morning transplanted in southeastern PA) and since we'd spent a mighty frigid day in Manhattan on Saturday, I decided it would be a good soup day. Since the youngest is home from college, I am once again challenged to find something to fill her meat-loving body. To say she's picky is an understatement. She has a reperitoire of ONE meat - chicken - and one vegetable beyond an iceberg-lettuce salad - broccoli. Corn doesn't count; everyone loves corn! I swear I raised her better, but she's stubborn.

I knew she liked potato soup and hated mushroom soup (see? she's impossible). And any hint of it being vegetarian-specific has her in a mood. The fact that we were able to go to Angelica Kitchen with her was a large sacrifice for her, I'm sure. She didn't fuss, though she did look as though we were trying to kill her (and in fact uttered that a few times over her salad). And yes, we had to find her "real" food afterward. Ugh.

Anyway, potato soup was yesterday's menu. Thanks to a few moments of "Oh lord, I've forgotten to stir!" it turned out to be the best I've made. Here's how I wowed even the picky one:

Low-fat, High-taste Potato Chowder

1 celery stalk, sliced small
2 Tbs. (more or less) onion, diced
2 Tbs. fresh chives, cut about 1/2 long
1 pat butter (less than a Tbs)
2 tsp. celery salt
2 cups vegetable broth (I used homemade blended and unstrained so all the veggies remains are still in there)
2 large-ish potatoes, skins on, cubed (I used red-skinned potatoes, but you could use Idaho, if you prefer)
1 cup fat-free milk
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a soup pot and saute celery, chives, and onion over medium heat to avoid burning butter, until veggies are soft. If you like, add a touch of water to help with softening the veggies while not burning things. Add 1 cup of the vegetable broth and continue sauteeing until the broth is reduced to about 1/2 cup (or until you remember you forgot to stir it). Add potatoes and the other cup of broth and cook on low heat, covered, until the potatoes are soft. I let it cook about 15 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in milk.

Take some of the soup (I took the majority of the potatoes and left just a few chunks) and blend on low in a blender for a few seconds. Return to the pot and stir in. If you have to, heat it up on low with the lid on just until it's hot. This makes a very creamy, thick soup without having to add any flour or cream.

I'm guessing there are about 350 calories in this and maybe 15 grams of fat. Not much, as there is very little butter (only to give it flavor) and fat-free milk. In fact, if you don't like butter or are vegan, skip that altogether. I've not worked with soy milk enough to know how it heats up, but since this milk is stirred in at the end, you should be fine.

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