For my last birthday, my lovely business partner Silvia had a sixth sense about what I wanted and brought over the very cookbook I had been admiring only days before. The reason for my admiration was the title and the reputation that came along with author Terry Walters. This particular gem is called “Clean Food – A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source.” In other words, something highly aspirational that I wished I did, but feared I could never live up to. (Have I mentioned that I’m a perfectionist lately?)
Initially, I wanted to dive right in, eagerly flipping the pages to the “winter” section and feeling empowered by the quote at the beginning of the section:
“Winter is the time of promise because there is so little to do – or because you can now and then permit yourself the luxury of thinking so.”
For me, it is clearly the latter. I’m never at a shortage of things to do. But I’m a big believer on taking time (even five minutes some days) for quiet. Of course, I ruined that a bit when I immediately vowed to cook every meal from that book for at least a week. Well, you can guess how that ended. Who was I kidding? And by the way, did I learn nothing from the quote? “The time of promise” does not mean the time to make promises you will never keep. So, I cooled off the proclamations and patiently skimmed my options. There were times when I wanted to mix up (or lighten up) traditional holiday treats (and ended up falling in love with “Cranberry Applesauce” on page 205. Or others when I wanted to stop being afraid of ingredients I’d never heard of (like kombu – like seaweed, or tamari – like soy sauce) and improvise on a recipe like “Lentil Soup” on page 207 that was delicious in the end.
So, when the weather started warming up, I decided to flip through the Spring section, hoping to be inspired by something seasonal. I landed on “Sweet Potato, Corn and Kale Chowder,” a name that includes 3 of my favorite ingredients this time of year (or any) and thought I’d give it a try. Admittedly, I assumed I would like it, but mostly just be proud of myself for trying another clean recipe. I’m not kidding when I tell you that I was ambitiously putting leftovers in the freezer only to take them out the next day because I was so in love.
Here’s the recipe:
1 T grapeseed oil
1 small onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
3 cups of corn, fresh or frozen
2 tsp dried thyme
2 C vegetable stock
2 C rice milk
2 T cashew butter, dissolved in 1/4 cup of hot water
1 bunch of kale, chopped into small pieces
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In large pot over medium heat, sauté onion in oil until soft (about 3 minutes)
Add celery, carrots, sweet potatoes (I kept the skin on) corn, thyme, and stock
Add enough rice milk to cover the vegetables.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are soft (about 20 minutes)
Remove from heat and add dissolved cashew butter (I did not have cashew butter and left this step out, still loving the results). Partially puree using a handheld blender. Add kale, return to heat, thin to desired consistency with water or stock and cook until kale is tender. (Since I have children, I chose to bring the emersion blender back out and blend until completely smooth. Little kale leaves floating in soup are not something my girls will gobble up willingly.)
Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve!