Just the other day, I saw a recipe for Cream of Broccoli soup, and since the weather has turned cooler, that seemed pretty good. But, then while organizing my freezer, I ran across a bag of Kabocha squash chunks. They seemed like a good idea, but I was initially disappointed in the texture. Whether steaming, microwaving or Instant Pot, they got too soft. Mushy. Not a good thing .... unless we're talking soup. The lightbulb went on.
This isn't soup so much as a chowder. Oh, as my New England husband might say, "Chow-dah". It's thick and hearty. And, even better, you can make it with a minimum of fuss and use both the Kabocha and broccoli florets from the freezer. There were years when I 'pooh-poohed' vegetables from the freezer. But, COVID forced my hand, and turned my thinking around when it became less appealing to just run to the store on a whim for fresh vegetables. I've finally got the memo that frozen can actually be better, and in many cases a time and money saver.
For this chowder, I used a 16 ounce bag of frozen Kabocha, but if you can't find that, a bag of frozen butternut squash chunks would also work. Failing that, go for the fresh!
Then, I always have frozen broccoli florets in the freezer now. I can't think of many vegetables that freeze any better than broccoli. Peas. Green beans. Asparagus. Okra. They're all perfectly good frozen. Some of the 'leafy' greens ... maybe not so much, except in a creamy soup, where I've applied the Vitamix or immersion blender. Then, they're great, too.
There are two steps to this chowder. You'll cook part of the ingredients, then apply the immersion blender. Then, for texture and appearance, add the remaining ingredients. It doesn't take any more time, really, and the result is worth it.
EQUIPMENT: Instant Pot, six quart.
One 16-ounce bag of frozen Kabocha squash cubes. I used the Earthbound Farms brand. Divided into two portions.
One 12-ounce bag of frozen broccoli florets, roughly chopped. Any brand will do.
One medium sized Russet potato - cubed. Divided into two portions.
Six to eight red and orange mini sweet peppers, seeded and diced. Sautéed for 1-2 minutes.
Four cups of vegan broth. I use the Better Than Bouillion No Chicken Base, which I highly recommend (in addition to all their vegetarian bouillion - which comes in a handy three-pack). If using the Better Than Bouillion, use two teaspoons of concentrated bouillion to four cups of water.
One can of White/Navy beans, rinsed and drained. Divided into two portions.
One small onion, diced.
Two tablespoons minced garlic.
Three tablespoons Nutritional Yeast. I like either Bob's Red Mill or Bragg's.
Two teaspoons onion powder.
One teaspoon garlic powder.
Two teaspoons of dried Oregano.
Two teaspoons of red pepper flakes.
Two teaspoons of salt.
Several grinds of black pepper.
Into your Instant Pot, add roughly half the squash and broccoli, half of the beans, all of the potato, onion, the broth, salt, pepper, garlic, Nutritional Yeast. Process on High for four minutes. Quick release.
Using your immersion blender stick ( blender or food processor), blend but not too much. You want 'creamy' but with a 'rustic' texture. Now, add the rest of the ingredients in - the remaining squash chunks, broccoli, beans, peppers. Add the Oregano, red pepper flakes. Stir gently to combine. Taste for seasoning, and add additional salt, pepper, onion or garlic powder.
Cover in the Instant Pot and let it Keep Warm for 30 minutes to one hour.
NOTES: I believe in using what you have on hand. If you don't have white/navy beans, but do have Great Northern or Cannellini beans, use those. As I mentioned earlier, use butternut squash if you can't find Kabocha. Have boxed vegan broth? Use that. Don't have an Instant Pot? That's okay. Use a regular pressure cooker, or even a pot on the stove.
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