winter vegetable chowder

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Winter Vegetable Chowder

From the book Vegetable Soups From Deborah Madison’s Kitchen by
Serves 6


This handsome one-bowl meal features winter roots and tubers in a milky broth that’s been steeped with aromatics. Turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, leeks, potatoes, a few celery stalks, carrots, and celery root are all candidates for inclusion. You needn’t use all at once, but try to include some of the golden-fleshed rutabagas and light green celery, and be sure to cut everything in large, handsome shapes. Bread, toasted and covered with Gruyère or Cantal cheese, sits beneath the vegetables and their broth, building up the soup’s heartiness and flavor.


Aromatics and milk

10 peppercorns
5 juniper berries
4 large parsley branches
1 large thyme sprig or 2 pinches dried thyme
2 bay leaves
½ onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, halved
2 cups milk


3 Tbsp. butter
4 leeks, about an inch across, white parts plus 1 inch of the greens, sliced diagonally about 1 inch thick and rinsed
8 to 10 cups (about 4½ pounds) root vegetables (see Introduction, above, for suggestions), peeled and cut into bold, attractive pieces
2 cups (10 ounces) carrots, peeled and left whole if only 3 inches long, otherwise cut into large pieces
2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
~ Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
3 Tbsp. flour

Bread, cheese, and garnish

6 large slices country bread, toasted
~ Grated or sliced Gruyère or Cantal cheese to cover the toast
~ Chopped parsley or tarragon (or both) for garnish


  1. Prep the aromatics and milk: Lightly crush the peppercorns and juniper berries together in a mortar and pestle. Put the crushed peppercorns and berries, along with all the other ingredients for the aromatics and milk, in a saucepan. Slowly bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. Cover and set aside while you prepare the vegetables.
  2. Prep the vegetables: Melt the butter in a wide soup pot. Add the vegetables, bay leaves, and parsley, and sprinkle with 1½ teaspoons salt. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or so to heat them up, gently moving them about the pan.
  3. Make the soup: Stir in the flour, then add 5 cups water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the vegetables are tender but still a tad firm, 15 to 20 minutes. Strain the milk into a blender, add 1 cup of the vegetables, and purée until smooth. Add the purée back to the soup. Taste for salt and season with pepper.
  4. To serve: Lay a piece of toast in each bowl, cover it with grated cheese, spoon some of the soup on top, and sprinkle with the chopped herbs.

Related article: Soup season

This content is from the book Vegetable Soups From Deborah Madison’s Kitchen by Deborah Madison.

There is 1 comment on this item
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Average Rating 4
100% recommend this recipe
1. by Liz Kroboth on Jan 31, 2011 at 9:17 PM PST
Rating: four

Very tasty soup - we made a half recipe and I wish we’d done the full thing! I especially like that it’s also relatively low fat and packed with veggies.

My one suggestion is that I think it needs a bit more salt. It came out somewhat bland so I ended up adding salt and pepper in my bowl. I also feel like it might have been nice to add the onions and some of the herbs from the milk mixture instead of throwing them out - that probably would have enhanced the flavor.

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