Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Spring vegetable and lentil chowder

It was a leisurely weekend with very little cooking. On Friday E has bought me a Smiths compilation album. It was on the stereo a lot over the weekend. “Heaven knows I am miserable now”, I sang along, reliving my student days while I fed Sylvia her breakfast. She just laughed.

After all our spring rain, we had plenty of sunshine. Saturday found us indulging in some leisurely reading in the backyard in the sun with Sylvia on some foam mats and rugs. Zinc basked in the sun. It was a day for drying washing, hunting out sun hats and watching the bees humming about the flowers on the lemon tree. Not a lot of time for cooking dinner.

I had to make up a puree for Sylvia so I extended this into our dinner. Just lots of vegetables that were extremely sweet before adding seasoning. It wasn’t great until I offloaded some unsatisfactory garlic and herb cheezly (vegan cheese) into it, which made it thick and tasty. You can substitute cheddar or parmesan if you don’t have unwanted cheezly but the chowder will be more gloopy, rich and full of cheese strings . I tried a spoonful of soyatoo soy cream but it was so sweet that I wouldn't recommend it.

On Sunday it was the last day of the Melbourne International Arts Festival. There has been very little energy for browsing the program in our house and even had we wanted to see some shows, they would have been sold out before we managed to think about tickets. Determined to see a festival show, we headed out to the Peter Greenaway’s light and sound show interpretation of Leonardo’s The Last Supper in the North Melbourne Town Hall. This was an intense experience with insistent cellos and vocals on the soundtrack and fast flowing changes in the way the picture was viewed through use of light. I particularly liked the close ups of flecks of paint on the canvas that were a veritable nanno landscape.

Consistent with our inability to organize ourselves to go out lately, was our unfortunately timing with the nearby Auction Rooms café where I wanted a bite to eat. It closed just as we arrived. So we went up the road to The Urban Burger. My burger was ok but a little heavy on the sauce and light on vegetables. E really enjoyed his beefy burger and the burger meister was charmed by Sylvia. I wasn’t too concerned about the lack of vegetables because I knew I had a chowder full of vegetables waiting for me at home. It was even better the second night.

Spring vegetable and lentil chowder
Serves 4-6 and 2 cups of baby food

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1kg thin carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • kernels of 3 ears of corn
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • generous dash of smoked paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 2 small bunches of asparagus, chopped
  • large handful of parsley, chopped
  • 150g grated garlic and herb cheezly, to serve (or your choice of cheese)
  • 2 tbsp chives, to serve

Place onion and ½ cup of water in large stockpot and bring to boil. Simmer gently while chopping carrots and potato. Add carrots and potato and 3 cups of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes (I simmered for about 15 minutes but I don’t think it was necessary to do it so long). Add sweet potato, corn and lentils. Simmer an additional 5 minutes.

If you are also making baby food, scoop 2 cups of soup into a separate saucepan, add ½ cup water and simmer another 10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Blend and store in small serves in the freezer (I use iceblock trays). If there are no babies to cater for, just keep on making the soup without removing any of this puree.

Add vegetable stock, salt, cayenne, smoked paprika, garlic and zucchini to the stockpot. Simmer 5 minutes. Add asparagus and simmer another 5 minutes. Stir in parsley and cheezly or cheese. Serve in bowl with chives sprinkled on top.

On the Stereo:
The Sound of The Smiths:
The Smith


  1. Cute kitty!

    PS. Consider your 'On the Stereo:' idea stolen.

  2. Gosh your chowder looks good Johanna. Particularly like that dash of paprika.

    My partner has a couple of Smiths albums on vinyl and they're regular Sunday listening for us. How soon is now is just an astonishing song.

  3. ooo it sounds so hearty! pretty kitty!
    The smiths are a definite favourite of mine. my best of cd always gets a play in the car on road trips. so much fun to sing along to!

  4. Aww your cat is so cute and nice to see a picture of Sylvia!

  5. This chowder looks great, and I love Sylvia's hat, so cute!

    PS. Smiths love!

  6. The Smiths take me back, too! You've managed to make baby food sound appetising, and show both your daughter and your cat off to best advantage! Sorry I've got behind with commenting - I loved the look of your take-away pizzas in a recent post. I'm very keen to try recreating all that pumpkin at home. Yum.

  7. first, my Belle and I were just listening to Hatful of Hollow... secind totally jealous about the Greenaway. we just watched the movie about Rembrandt. And as Lysy said i would like to try this with squash.

  8. Thanks Niki - yes zinckie is very cute - feel free to steal my on the stereo idea - love seeing what others listen to!

    Thanks Kathryn - unfortunately I have one smiths album on vinyl and no record player but have a couple on cd too - oh I love smoked paprika in everything!

    Thanks Philippa - smiths are great road trip listening and the lyrics always give me a smile

    Thanks Lorraine - the backyard is a lovely place with a cute baby and cute cat!

    Thanks Sarah - yes I love sylvie's hat - it is a hand-me-down but so cute and useful with all the sunshine lately

    Thanks Lysy - not hard to make sylvie and zinc look good but baby food is another matter - I get inspiration from checking out commercial mixes

    Thanks Maybelle's Mom - hatful of hollow was my first smiths love and I still have a soft spot for the album - I agree this chowder would be good with squash or pumpkin in my case - but I use pumpkin so much that I sometimes try to use something else.

  9. your puss zinc looks alot like the pussycat at the st kilda botanics eco centre... although they are both white pussycats with pink colars so i don't think theres too much variation available :)
    I thought i should comment and say hi as i have been reading your blog for a while now.
    Well.. Hi!

  10. hi lizzie - great to hear from you - I love the photo of the white cat you mean - we always love spotting white cats because of our zinc

  11. Zinc really is a white version of Mikey!

  12. I love all the vegetables in your soup! And lentils. I love lentils in soup.

  13. Thanks Nic - I agree - both gorgeous moggies :-)

    Thanks AShley - I always have to have lots of veg in soup - lentils are optional but very good

  14. I know I've got a couple of cassettes of the Smiths somewhere . . .must dig them out, as the only thing I remember is "Girlfriend in a Coma." That chowder does look good! Maybe I'll make an autumn version. ;)


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