Traditionally, a chowder is a milk-based soup flavoured with bacon and thickened with flour or saltine-like crackers. The soup can contain anything from seafood, to potatoes or whatever vegetables are available to the cook at the time.
I used artichokes, purple potatoes and some leeks. I slightly adapted the recipe I found on a website called SPUD which called for the use of soy milk instead of milk. Not this time though, I needed something a bit heartier than soy milk.
To give the soup a smoky flavour I used ground cumin and for some sweetness, I added fresh sweet basil. Just before serving, I added a generous shaving of Parmigiano Reggiano which gave the soup an extra kick.
If you don't have purple potatoes, not to worry as they don't seem to taste any different from normal potatoes, they just add a great flash of colour to the otherwise neutral shades of the chowder. These little purple gems are known as Purple Peruvian potatoes and were considered by the Inca to be food of the gods.
Their colour is gorgeous and holds pretty well despite being steamed and then boiled.
Purple potato and artichoke chowder
5 purple potatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1.5 cups of leeks, sliced
3/4 cup of fresh sweet basil, roughly chopped
1 tbs of coconut oil (or olive oil)
1.5 tsp of sea salt
1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
2.5 cups of milk
1 tsp of ground cumin
2 cups of water
- Pour two cups of water into a steamer and bring to the boil.
- Meanwhile, use a serrated knife to trim the tips of the artichoke leaves to remove the spines and to cut the base.
- Place the artichokes with the potatoes in the steamer and steam for about 15-20 minutes. Remove from steamer and set aside. Keep the water from the steamer.
- Heat the coconut oil in a medium soup pot over a moderate heat. Add the leeks and sauté for about 10 minutes or until the leeks are translucent and are starting to brown.
- Add the cumin to the leeks and stir for about 3 minutes, being careful not to burn the spice.
- Add milk to the leeks and stir well. Simmer over a medium heat for about 15 minutes or until the mixture starts to reduce. Skim off any froth that bubbles to the top and discard.
- Add the potatoes to the soup and one cup of water from the steamer.
- Cut the artichokes into quarters and remove any fibres or tough leaves. Add the artichoke to the pot and stir well. Add the sea salt and stir again.
- Cover the pot and turn down the heat and let the soup cook for another 10 minutes and just before serving stir in the sweet basil.
- Ladle chowder into bowls and grate on some Parmigiano Reggiano.
- Sprinkle on black pepper and slurp!