My husband is an excellent cook, and he had always planned on wooing his future wife with creamy, New England-style clam chowder. So when he found out while we were dating that I was lactose-intolerant his dreams were dashed. However, determined to produce some type of chowder I could enjoy, he came up with a leek and potato version that has become a wintertime staple in our house. It’s quick and hearty, and enjoyed by both the lactose tolerant and intolerant. Because the ingredients are quite simple, the key to success with this soup is to season in layers and to not overcook the potatoes — they should be tender, but still have some body to them. You can puree this soup if you want it smooth, but I prefer to just mash it with a potato masher, leaving it a bit chunky.
Quick Leek and Potato Clam Chowder (Dairy-Free)
- 4-5 medium leeks, rinsed and white parts chopped into half-moons (about 6 cups, chopped)
- 2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves, finely diced
- 4 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 1 quart chicken broth, preferably low-sodium
- 1 10 oz. can baby clams, liquid included
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- Olive oil
- Salt, sugar, and pepper
- Dash of Worcestershire sauce
- Dash of Old Bay
- Chopped scallions
- Bacon bits*
- Sour cream
- Heat a couple glugs of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onions, celery and garlic and saute until the onions are softened, 2-3 minutes. Season with salt, sugar, and pepper.
- Add the leeks in 3 portions, seasoning each batch generously with salt, sugar, and pepper and letting it wilt down before adding the next batch.
- When the leeks are softened, add the potatoes, broth, juice from the clams, bay leaves, and thyme. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn to low to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
- If you want a smooth soup, puree using an immersion blender or food processor. If you prefer it chunky, use a potato masher to mash the soup to your desired consistency.
- Add the clams, Worcestershire sauce, and Old Bay. Taste to check for seasonings.
- Serve with optional garnishes, a green salad, and a loaf of crusty bread.
*Note: if serving with bacon bits, I will first fry the bacon until crisp in the soup pot; then use a portion of the drippings to saute the vegetables.
Last week, David and I enjoyed dinner at Canoe to celebrate our first anniversary (yay!). It was a lovely meal, from the 54-foot high view to the attentive service. One of the highlights for both of us was the mushroom soup, which we ordered as an appetizer. It was earthy, incredibly mushroom-y, and — best of all for lactose-intolerant me — dairy free (except for a small garnish of creme fraiche). I am a sucker for anything with mushrooms (I haven’t met a mushroom I didn’t like; we even successfully grew some oyster mushrooms this summer) and was eager to replicate this soup at home. Fortunately, the Toronto Star helped me out by having this recipe in its archives. We tried it today and have declared it part of our soup cycle.
This recipe is fast (less than 45 minutes!), healthy, vegetarian (can easily be made vegan if you omit the yogurt/cream garnish), and most importantly — delicious.
Oliver & Bonacini’s Mushroom Soup
Serves 4 | Original Source
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped yellow onions (about 1 small)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Chopped leaves from 1 sprig thyme
- 6 cups (1.5L) diced assorted mushrooms (such as shiitake, oyster and king oyster — I used cremini, oyster and reconstituted dried shiitakes and used the soaking liquid as part of the water)
- Kosher salt + freshly ground pepper
- 4 cups (1L) water
- 1 bay leaf
- Truffle oil
- Chopped chives / parsley / cilantro
- Trimmed enoki mushrooms
- Plain yogurt / sour cream / creme fraiche
- In large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium. Add onions, garlic and thyme. Cook, stirring, 6 minutes, to soften, reducing heat if onions start to brown. Add mushrooms in 4 batches, seasoning each layer with salt and pepper and stirring constantly. (This allows each batch to cook down slowly.) Add water and bay leaf. Raise heat to high; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Discard bay leaf. For coarse soup, purée using hand-held immersion blender. For creamy soup, purée in blender.
- Return to pot over medium heat. Taste; adjust salt and pepper if needed. Serve immediately, or refrigerate overnight to let flavours develop.
- If desired, top each serving with a drizzle of truffle oil, sprinkling of chives, several enokis and a dollop of yogurt.
Makes 4 servings (about 4 cups/1L).
I don’t like peas.
As a child, I’d put up a fuss every time peas and carrots were served for dinner. I hated their mealy, mushy texture and ability to make everything else on the plate taste and smell like peas.
So I was skeptical when, back when we were dating, my now-husband mentioned that he wanted to make me “delicious” Canadian pea soup. In my mind, “delicious” and “pea soup” were not compatible phrases, even when love was involved.
Anyways, David waited until we were married before testing out this recipe on me. And…I was surprised. It was, indeed, delicious pea soup. HOWEVER, it was not green pea soup. It’s yellow split pea soup, a traditional French Canadian dish. I haven’t tried looking for yellow split peas anywhere besides Toronto, but here they are readily available in the bean aisle in your average supermarket.
This soup is homey and hearty — just the thing to warm you up in subzero Canadian winter weather. It’s also a forgiving recipe — I’ve altered the number of veggies, depending on what I have on hand. And though traditionally made with a ham hock, I’ve also substituted smoked pork bits and leftover ham with good success. It’s also super easy — just pile the ingredients in the pot, bring it to a boil, then simmer til delicious!
Canadian Pea Soup
- 1 ham hock (or meaty ham bone, or ~1/2 lb. ham)
- 2 cups dried yellow split peas
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced (optional)
- 8 cups of water
- 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
- 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
- 1 sprig fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam that rises to the top.
- Lower to a simmer, cover, and cook for 2-3 hours or until peas begin falling apart and the ham meat is cooked and falling off the bone.
- Remove from heat. Remove meat and set aside. Remove bay leaf and thyme sprig and discard.
- Puree soup in batches in a food processor / blender (or use an immersion blender) to desired consistency.
- Chop meat and return to pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste.