During the winter I gravitate towards my slow cooker (which I’ve named ‘Sally’, by the way) like a moth to a flame, however as the months get warmer I tend to shy away more. The thing is, I’ve realised that’s a bit silly really, on reflection. Slow cookers don’t give out as much heat as ovens – so whilst in the summer I bemoan how hot my kitchen is getting as I bake or roast something, I should really be turning to Sally more often! Now granted, in England it’s hardly the height of summer but we’ve had some warm days crop up in between the torrential rain downpours!
It was after just one such warm day that, the following day, I knew I didn’t want to be having a super hot oven if the same weather came about again, and I also knew we’d be out and about most of the day so I was likely to be feeling more inclined to eat a takeaway than cook a healthy dinner.
Cue: Sally the slow cooker.
Whilst I delegated some wedding-related errands to my fiancé in the morning, I told myself to get my butt into the kitchen and see what was around that could be left happily to itself while we were out. I found myself with half a starting-to-look-sorry-for-itself pepper, a nearly whole pack of mini sweet-bite peppers, some slightly soft potatoes and a badly ripped bag of frozen sweetcorn that was irritating me no end! After some umm-ing and ah-ing and checking in with Adam to see if there was anything in particular he was fancying (or not fancying, as the case may be), I settled on soup – and what became a creamy but healthy, very enjoyable bowl of pepper and sweetcorn vegan chowder.
Healthy food, which tastes brilliant
As is my custom, I wanted some cook something that would be nutritious, healthy and still taste brilliant. I prefer to make most of my meals low fat, largely so that I can munch away on nuts, avocados and the odd bit of vegan chocolate or ice cream whenever I want. To that end – this pepper & sweetcorn vegan chowder is creamy, without the cream. It’s chowder, without the butter. In fact, it’s completely oil free! It’s one of those, dairy free, egg free, meat free, low fat recipes that often has people asking, with amusement, what on earth is in it then.
Vegetables, my dear friends, vegetables. Pure and simple!
The creamy, comforting factor in this chowder-soup concoction comes from the potatoes and corn that we cook low and slow, and then blend. The blended potato and sweetcorn gives the dish a beautiful thickness and sense of warmth without the need for any flour or dairy. We add an (optional) cup of enriched non-dairy milk to help promote the feel of creamy luxury, without the cholesterol, and to get in some extra vitamins.
Cumin and smoked paprika complement each other to add a touch of something reminiscent of bbq-ed corn on the cob, but it’s a very subtle edge. The real flavour is in the sweet of the unblended corn kernels and the creamy blended base of potatoes, peppers and corn.
Is your interest piqued? Why not try it now. In case you don’t have a slow cooker – or if you’re in need of of a quick meal, now, I’ve also included instructions for how to cook on a hob.
Pepper & sweetcorn vegan chowder
- Water to steam sauté
- 1 large ~190g onion, diced
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1.5 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ pink Himalayan salt
- 1 red/yellow bell pepper ~145g, deseeded and diced
- 2-3 medium ~330g potatoes, diced
- 1-2 medium 310g sweet potatoes, diced
- 480 g frozen sweetcorn divided
- 1 litre vegetable stock
- 1 cup 240ml non-dairy milk (optional, I use unsweetened almond)
- salt & pepper to taste
- to garnish optional
- Bell pepper diced
- Sweetcorn kernels defrosted
- Spring onion sliced
- Fresh chilli thinly sliced
- to serve optional
- a big loaf of fresh bread
- slow cooker instructions
- Add some water (or oil, if you prefer) to a sauté pan and put over a medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until softened and turning translucent (about 5-10 minutes). Add more water if necessary.
- Add the cooked onion, diced peppers, white and sweet potatoes, spices and vegetable broth to the slow cooker. Add 120g of the frozen sweetcorn as well. Stir well, cover and leave to cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours (at least until the potatoes are soft).
- About thirty minutes before you want to serve the soup, it's time to get involved again! If you're serving with fresh bread, I recommend warming your oven now: turn it on to about 120°C-150°C (no more, you're just heating bread here!). Put your bread on a baking sheet or rack and pop it in the oven to warm through.
- Then, blend the soup until smooth - I used a stick blender for this, but you could add it to a high powdered blender, or a food processor in batches too. Once smooth, return to the slow cooker.
- Stir in the non-dairy milk and remaining 360g of frozen sweetcorn. Season to taste. Make sure the slow cooker is on high, pop the lid back on and let it warm back up.
- As soon as it's warmed through - make sure to check the sweetcorn - serve sprinkled with your choice of garnish and the fresh bread.
- stovetop instructions
- Put a large saucepan over a medium heat and add water or oil. Add the diced onions and cook until soft (about 10 minutes).
- Next, add the spices (cumin through to salt) and stir, cooking for about 30 seconds.
- Add the peppers, potatoes, 120g of the frozen sweetcorn, vegetable stock and non-dairy milk (if using). Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are soft - about 20 minutes, depending on the size of your potatoes.
- Once soft, blend until smooth, then return to the heat.
- Add the remaining 360g of frozen sweetcorn, season to taste, and cook until warmed through (about 5 minutes).
- I've made this with and without the milk - if you don't have any, don't worry. It makes for a milder flavour if used
- I like to put dairy-free butter and hummus on the table for smearing on the bread!
- Nutritional information is based on five servings, made with unsweetened almond milk