Roasted Potato, Corn, and Leek Chowder
Happy Valentine’s Day, friends and lovahhhhs!!
My roommate gets enough love around these parts, so I’m going to skip gushing over the dude and his wonderland bod today. (Although he did surprise me by revealing via a card hidden in his underwear drawer that he’s coming home a day early from his work trip to love me up tonight. Snaps for Logan.) Instead, I’m going to take a hot second this V-Day to shower another wonderful person in my life with some good love and affection—the beautiful and talented Jessica Murnane.
Get ready for the hearts and rainbows…
I “met” Jess for the first time early last fall. We were introduced by our mutual friend, Phoebe, who knew that Jess and I had the same editor/publisher at HarperWave and thought we should chat. Because I’m in NYC and Jess is in Charleston, we set up a time to Skype (just audio at Jess’s suggestion so that neither of us had to be distracted by our own appearance on da computer—GENIUS), and the rest is pretty much history. That convo was easily one of this weird blog lady’s greatest friend dates ever, and that’s saying a lot. I go on a truly alarming amount of friend dates.
For those not familiar with the “friend date,” it’s exactly what it sounds like. One of your friends says something along the lines of, “Oh, you live in /you like /you work in , my friend’s cousin’s dogsitter’s ex-girlfriend does too, you should meet!” And then you do. Friend dates are particularly helpful when you move to a new city or work in a semi-obscure field, and as someone that’s done/does both, I’m practically a platonic dating professional. (My Parisian tenure was basically a two-year friend date blur…)
Just like a romantic date, the friend date is an interview between two strangers to determine whether they’d like to pursue a relationship. Needless to say, it doesn’t always work out. More often than not, there’s no spark, and you just know halfway through your coffee/cocktail/call that you’re never going to hang out with this human again. C’est la vie. But on occasion, you really click with someone, and you’re just like, “YES PLEASE. Let’s do this. What should our handshake be?!”
That’s how I felt about Jess.
First of all, Jess is smart and funny, which are obviously my favorite human attributes (followed closely by “good hugger” and “not judgy”). She’s also wonderfully wise for someone her age, and the lady is honest as fuck—a rare trait I find extremely refreshing these days. But what really drew me to Jess was how passionate she is about her work, specifically the One Part Plant movement.
A little backstory. After being diagnosed with endometriosis, Jess could barely manage her chronic pain and was headed for a hysterectomy at 33. In the hope of avoiding that unhappy fate, she decided to try a plant-based diet at the recommendation of a friend, and that single decision completely changed her life. Her pain and the accompanying depression began to fade, her energy returned, and in just six short months, she “got her sparkle back.” No surgery necessary.
After this “holy shit” realization re: the power of diet to transform people’s lives, Jess committed herself to spreading the plant-based word and giving others the opportunity to benefit from real food in the way that she did using her “One Part Plant” philosophy. The philosophy is simple, but to avoid any confusion, I’m going to let Jess explain OPP in her own words:
OPP is an eating philosophy; it means at least one meal a day is made up of real, whole, plant-based foods. One. OPP is not some crazy diet with a list of forbidden foods you can never eat again, and it doesn’t require you to join a culty food tribe with a million rules. OPP is about making plants the star of the show for one meal a day. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner—you pick. Once a day you’ll create, pick up, or order in (no shame in that) a plant-based meal.
You see why I love her? (Did I mention she wears cool hats and enjoys profanity as much as I do?) In short, I’m down with OPP, and it’s been truly inspiring to watch Jess spearhead such a non-preachy, non-judgmental real food movement, first with the One Part Plant podcast and now with the One Part Plant cookbook.
This cookbook! I’m a well-documented cookbook collector, yes, but this one is special. The plant-based recipes—which range from simple sauces and dressings to satisfying mains and desserts—are great, but it’s the design and commentary that set this baby apart from most other books of its type. It’s warm and unfussy (perfect for beginner cooks!), and the book is filled with bright prints, breathtaking but not overly styled photos, and plenty of real talk. I think you’ll enjoy it. Let’s be straight, I wouldn’t have written this psycho Galentine’s love letter to Jess if I didn’t honestly adore this book. (I would have just posted an Instagram with “Congrats on your book baby!” or something to be nice. Fact.)
Jesus, this post is long, and we haven’t even talked about the soup! Sorry.
This Roasted Potato, Corn, and Leek Chowder is ripped straight from OPP’s pages, and it is fantastic. What’s surprising about this vegan chowder is how hearty and flavorful it is given the few, very basic ingredients required. Coconut milk provides a subtle creamy sweetness (don’t worry, it doesn’t taste notably coconut-y), and roasting the potatoes serves up unexpected depth. I’m also pleased to report that the recipe comes together super fast (minus the potato roasting time) and requires zero culinary skill, which is always a plus.
A few quick recipe notes. Since it’s not corn season, I used canned sweet corn, but I love the idea of using grilled corn during the summer months and serving the soup at room temp. If you follow the recipe as written, the soup will be super thick. I’m into that, but if you’re not, just keep adding veggie broth until you reach your desired consistency. And if you don’t feel like turning on the oven, you can definitely skip the roasting step and throw the raw potatoes into the soup (after the veggie broth) and simmer until tender. Finally, I was obsessed with the potato-corn-leek medley garnish. Next time, I’ll probably add an extra leek and ear of corn into the mix and roast an extra potato, so I can have more topping action. You might want to do the same.
RECAP: Happy Valentine’s Day. Shower someone with love. Buy One Part Plant. Make this chowder.
p.s. If you’ve already had your daily OPP meal when you make this soup, feel free to add some browned chicken sausage or a sprinkling of goat cheese to your bowl…
p.p.s. If you want to listen to Jess and I chat, check out this episode of her podcast.
Roasted Potato, Corn, and Leek Chowder: (Serves 4)
2 medium potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes (I recommend Yukon golds)
2½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive or coconut oil
2 cups sliced leeks, white and light green parts only (about 3 leeks), or 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
Kernels from 3 ears cooked corn (about 2¼ cups kernels)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup canned full-fat coconut milk
2 cups veggie broth, plus more if needed
Preparing your Roasted Potato, Corn, and Leek Chowder:
-Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the potatoes with a little olive or melted coconut oil and salt and pepper.
-Roast them on the baking sheet until ther are tender and slightly browned, about 30-40 minutes. (Check them at the 30 minute mark, peeps.)
-Meanwhile, place a medium Dutch oven or sauté pan over medium heat and add 1½ tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the leeks and sauté until they’re soft, about 5 minutes.
-Add the corn and garlic and sauté for another 3-5 minutes. Scoop out about 1/3 cup of the sautéed mixture and set it aside.
-Add the coconut milk and veggie broth to the pot and simmer for another 5 minutes. When the potatoes are ready transfer 1/3 cup of them to the reserved sauteed mixture. Add the remaining potatoes to the pot and simmer for 5 minutes more.
-Puree the soup using an immersion blender, or transfer everything from the pot to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Add more veggie broth if you like—Jess and I prefer this soup on the thick side. Salt to taste.
-When you’re ready to serve, transfer the soup to individual bowls and garnish with a little of the reserved potato, corn and leek mixture on top.
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