File today’s Curried Butternut Corn Chowder under “Accidentally Vegan” because that’s exactly what it is. I didn’t recognize this soup’s vegan status until I was halfway through a bowlful. To be honest, I never set out to make anything that adheres to any dietary restrictions. I just make food I think people will love. Sometimes that food turns out to be vegetarian or vegan, and sometimes it turns out like this. Rightly or wrongly, I simply don’t have a dog in this dietary fight. I have friends who are vegan and friends who are not. So, when I make a rippin’ vegan soup by accident, I rejoice in the fact that I’ve made something everyone I know can eat.Jump to Recipe
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This winter is the first winter in many a winter that I’m not going away. I’ve got a lot going on at the moment (can’t wait to let you in on all of it) and I simply couldn’t find the time to steal away. As you know, Bae and I usually escape to Mexico, but this year we will be sticking the winter out like the hardened Canadians we pretend to be. And ever since we made this decision, the whining has not stopped. Well, my whining has not stopped. Bae has been annoying stoic. It really highlights my childishness, which I don’t appreciate.
Anyway, I’ve been finding myself craving all sorts of warm weather food. But tucking into ceviche when it’s -20°C only adds insult to injury. So instead I’ve been looking for meals that are summery and cozy at the same time. Not too much to ask, right? Well, today’s Curried Butternut Corn Chowder has proven to be that culinary unicorn. The fact that it’s vegan only sweetens the deal because this soup can deliver almost anybody from the winter blues. There’s just something so lovely about making universal food.
Here in Toronto, there is no shortage of Carribean food. We are a city rich in jerk, roti, and patties. Carribean food is so good and plentiful here that I often forget I can make it at home. When you can walk literal steps to some of the best Rice and Peas you’re liable to have, it feels unnecessary to attempt to recreate it your own damn self. So, I will admit, there was and still is a Carribean-sized hole in my culinary education. And yes, I am guilty of using jerk sauce from a bottle. The shame of it all.
But I have taken some tentative steps towards addressing this glaring oversight, albeit in my own bizarre way. This fried chicken sandwich is a prime example of this fact. Today’s Curried Butternut Corn Chowder continues in this theme, borrowing flavors from Jamaican Pumpkin Soup and a childhood favorite of mine: corn chowder. If you’re curious what the East Coast version of corn chowder looks like, this mushroom chowder I made a while back is very much adapted from the chowders of my youth – that might just be the title of my future memoir. Having said that, this Curried Butternut Corn Chowder leans far more heavily on the flavors of the Carribean rather than those of this East Coast. I merely borrowed the term chowder, truth be told. Oh and a cup of yellow split peas. Nova Scotians love them some split peas.
This soup features a Carribean-style curry powder, allspice, coconut cream, and two scotch bonnet peppers. It definitely has heat, but I think the coconut milk and the sweetness of the corn mellows it out, so fear not. If you’re very concerned about the spice level, knock the scotch bonnet peppers back to one. And remember, you’re not cutting the scotch bonnet, you’re merely simmering the soup with the peppers. You won’t accidentally run into a big strip of pepper. The heat will be more of a background note, not a scene-stealer.
This, like most good soups, is a low and slow cook, so bear that in mind before you attempt. Personally, I’d leave this chowder for a day when you have a laundry/ house cleaning slog before you. Something that will keep you occupied and in the house while this baby cooks. She’s not a high maintenance soup, but she does need to be looked in on every now and then. Oh, and she’ll make your house smell like heaven and trust me, you’ll want to be around for that.
So, that’s the skinny on this Curried Butternut Corn Chowder. It delivers a taste of the islands with all the warmth needed to combat Canadian temperatures. With a bowl of this liquid sunshine in our corner, we may just live to see spring… At least that’s the theory.
Curried Butternut Corn Chowder with Coconut Cream
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 sweet onion coarsely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 3 small carrots peeled and coarsely chopped
- 3 ribs celery coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 tbsp Carribean curry powder I used Cool Runnings Jamaican Style Curry Powder
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 butternut squash peeled and coarsely chopped
- 8 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 scotch bonnet peppers
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 cup split yellow peas
- 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups frozen sweet corn
- 1 can full fat coconut milk
- 1 lime juiced
- Fresh cilantro for sprinkling
- hot pepper sauce for finishing
- Melt the coconut oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and saute over low heat until just translucent.
- Stir in the celery, carrots, and garlic and saute until the garlic is fragrant and the carrots have softened slightly. Stir in the curry powder, salt, allspice, and ground coriander. Add the butternut squash and toss to coat.
- Add the thyme, scotch bonnet peppers, and bay leaves to the pot. Pour in the broth and water and turn the heat up to medium-high. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir in the split yellow peas. Reduce to a simmer and let cook for at least 2 hours.
- Remove the thyme bundle, scotch bonnet peppers and bay leaves from the pot. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. Stir in the corn and simmer until heated through. This should take about 5 minutes. Take the soup off of the heat.
- Open a can of coconut milk and spoon off 2 tablespoons of the thick cream at the top of the can. Set aside. Pour what’s left in the can into the pot. Add the lime juice and stir to combine. Taste the soup and season with additional salt if desired.
- Divide the soup amongst 6-8 bowls and top with these reserved coconut cream, the hot pepper sauce, and fresh cilantro. Serve Immediately with a wedge of lime and a cold beer.