This simple bowl of chowder is full of deeply earthy, satisfying flavors - it craves a brisk walk in the steely sunshine and a thick cut slice of dark brown bread.
Chowder is something which feels synonymous with my New England roots. The ubiquitous clam chowder is ingrained in the food culture of the region as much as fish & chips are here in London. I grew up eating simple corn chowder and on other occasions a more robust oyster chowder. I like that they are quick to make and can usually be made with things already in the larder - the staples - butter, milk, water, potatoes.
The origins for this chowder came on a walk through Richmond Park. I can understand why King Henry VIII used it as his hunting grounds- so beautiful & so varied in such proximity to the city. After an earnest walk, I wanted something delicious but unfussy. I used what I had around for this root vegetable chowder. One of which was a large amount of whey left over after making cheese the day before. Instead of dumping the protein rich whey, I used it as the stock base for this chowder. Water or a light stock work equally well.
Serves a group (4-8 depending on serving size)
1 1/2 pounds parsnips
1 1/2 pounds turnips (or swedes as they are known here)
2 sm/medium sized potatoes
1 large yellow onion. chopped.
3 springs of thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp garam masala
4 cups whey, water or light stock
2 cups milk.
knob of ghee or butter
sea salt & fresh black pepper
Melt ghee in the pan and when it starts to bubble add the chopped onion, thyme and a pinch of sea salt.
Sweat the onions until they are translucent. Stir in the garam masala, toast until fragrant, then add the bay leaf. Stir everything together then add the washed and chopped parsnips, potatoes & turnip. It is up to you if you would like to peel them or not. I usually don't.
Stir veg together until it is well coated in the ghee & spices. Let it cook for a few minutes more to blend all the flavors together.
Add your liquid, which ever you are using. You want to just cover most of the veg tops. Bring it to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until turnips, parsnips and potatoes are very soft.
Liquid should reduce down some.
Once the vegetables are done, remove pan from the heat and let it cool a few minutes. Using your preferred method, blend into a smooth but still quite textured mixture.
Return pan to a low heat and add the milk. If you like your chowder a bit thicker add less milk. Heat milk through but do not scald or boil the milk.
Salt & pepper to taste.
optional - I serve each of the bowls topped with toasted leeks, a drizzle of herb oil and a few dried cranberries.