Monday, September 17, 2012

Hawthorne Chowder

Nathanial Hawthorne is amongst my top 10 favorite authors. I'm in the middle of reading his complete works and I started to wonder...what did Nathanial Hawthorne eat, and could a vegan dish be made to match the types of food eaten in the first half of the 19th century in America?

In my extensive research via google and wikipedia (along with a few other New England history related sites) I discovered what I probably already knew. People back then ate a lot of sea food, wild game, and eggs. They also preserved a lot of fresh vegetables via pickling and kept many vegetables cool in their root cellars. Many of the vegetables cultivated then were the same as that which is now available except that things were pretty much local and seasonal. Root vegetables and squashes would have been consumed through the colder months for as long as they lasted, corn was very popular, and hot peppers were introduced via the Native Americans around this time. Finally, as it is today, chowder was a popular style of soup in the New England of Hawthorne's time.

Therefore, my second question is answered: of course a vegan dish can be created using the foods that would traditionally have graced the maw of Nathanial Hawthorne. And here is what I came up with to go along with an evening of reading, "The House of the Seven Gables."

1 Tbsp. non-hydrogenated vegan margarine or extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow or white onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 small parsnip, diced
1 root of celery (celeric), diced (if you can't find celeric use an extra parsnip or potato)
2 ribs celery, diced
2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
7 c. vegetable broth
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chipotle chile powder
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 c. corn, fresh off the cob or frozen
1 c. soy milk

1) Melt the margarine, such as Earth Balance Buttery Spread, or heat the oil in a large soup pot and add the onion, celery, celery root, carrots and parsnip. Saute until soft, about 10 minutes.

2) Add the potato, broth, salt, pepper and chipotle chile powder, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

3) Remove the soup from the heat and puree with an immersion blender.

4) Add the corn and soy milk and bring back to a simmer to heat through.

This makes about 6 servings.

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