The sky is grey and trees once hanging heavy with snow are now bare due to 25 km winds. It’s amazing how much a landscape can change with just a gust of wind. Though mild temperatures persist, it feels more like a blizzardy day, one where you’d hunker down with a big bowl of stew and your fuzziest blanket. Ice pellets falling from the sky are in the immediate future and the wind gusts are proving to challenge even the strongest ravens (and those things are fierce in the north…and the size of medium sized dogs. These are seriously huge birds!). It’s time for comfort food. Again…
Comfort food. Perfect for cold days, low days, sad days, days on the ski hill with the kids, days that are blustery, after a night of not sleeping well or for days spent outside frolicking in the snow with good friends. Seriously, when is it not the right time? Depending on who you ask, comfort food can vary greatly. However, it’s usually associated with dishes someone you loved used to make. What they often have in common is some kind of startchy goodness like rice, potatoes, pasta or bread and some type of creamy texture mixed in for good measure. Comfort food doesn’t always have to be unhealthy though and with New Year’s resolutions falling like flies in late fall, this one won’t leave you with any guilt at all. Little potatoes, corn, and butternut squash all surrounded in a coconut milk broth and warming spices to wrap you up in proverbial blanket of coziness.
Bring on the ice pellets!
I hesitate noting a recipe as vegan. Vegan recipes scare the meat eaters away and the meat dishes scare the vegans away. The fact of the matter is that you can always add meat to a stew or soup…or any dish for that matter. Meat and cheese eaters out there (like me), trust me, it’s delicious. This thick and hearty soup/stew won’t leave you feeling like there is anything missing but if you have your heart set on meat, I recommend adding fish or chicken as a tasty addition. Fish can go in raw at the same time as the peppers. If using chicken, it can be cut into bite sized pieces and browned at the beginning with the onions. You may want to and an extra cup of stock as well. Continue with the recipe as usual.
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp each whole coriander and cumin crushed with mortar and pestle
- 1/2 tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice
- Mix all the ingredients together.
- 2 Tbsp coconut oil (or substitute olive oil)
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tbsp finely fresh grated ginger
- 1 recipe of Moroccan spice blend (see above)
- 1 14 fl. oz can coconut milk
- 4 cups of vegetable stock (or substitute chicken stock)
- 2 cups baby potatoes cut into bite size pieces
- 2 cups of butternut squash cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 red peppers, diced
- 2 cups of frozen corn kernels
- 1 1/2 cups of cooked chickpeas (or 1-15 oz/425 g can or 398ml can, drained and rinsed)
- 1 lime
- parlsey or cilantro, chopped to garnish
- In a large pot set over medium heat, melt the coconut oil. Add the onions and cooked until softened. Add the garlic, ginger, and the spices. Stir and cook until it becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the coconut milk, stock, potatoes and butternut squash. Cook covered for 15 minutes. Add the peppers, corn and chickpeas. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes or until peppers are tender. Right before serving add the juice of 1/2 a lime (this is what makes the flavors of the chowder come to life).
- Serve with a wedge of lime and chopped fresh cilantro or parsley.
It’s not a surprise to those who have been following me for a while that I love the blend of exotic spices, here are just a few examples: Tunisian Spiced Salmon, Vegetable Tagine, Vietnamese Braised Chicken, and this Thai Butternut Squash Soup. Cinnamon, ginger, coriander, turmeric and chilies make my world go round. I’ve included the spice blend used in this recipe but feel free to make a big batch and add it to your favorite tomato based stews instead of your ‘go to’ herbs for a flavor explosion.
Cheap fix for spices: Spices can be expensive. Especially if you’re buying them in the spice isle in the little glass bottles (you know the ones). I find I get the best deal if I buy these spices from the ethic or import isle. They typically come in bags and you’ll get 10 times more for a third the price. I also buy my dried cranberries, beans, lentils and almonds there too.