3 years ago I was going through a bad breakup, I was in the middle of finals season in law school, and I was at one of the lowest points in my life (Don’t worry, the story has a happy ending!). I knew I had to get through finals, and I filled the void with bagels and Thai food. Every. Day. And then, afterwards during my break I filled the void with lots and lots of skiing, which was also accompanied by daily bowls of chowder and chocolate chip cookies. Long story short, by the end of that winter I was quite the chunky monkey and have been struggling to lose that weight ever since. Don’t believe me? Skinny Jen vs Chunky Jen (who covers everything up.)
But in May I decided to lose that weight, about 20 pounds – which is a lot on my 5 foot tall frame. In the middle of all this I got engaged, and so I’ve had the extra incentive of a wedding to lose that extra weight I’ve been carrying for 3 years. The first 10 pounds came of easily enough – but the last 10? Ugh. Hard work. And now ski season is looming and bowls of chowder will be there calling my name all winter. Hello temptation.
My solution? Healthier versions of my favorite foods. First up? This variation on chowder!
It’s got squash (which I’m clearly obsessed with), sage and lobster mushrooms which make this feel like it’s non-vegetarian counterpart. It’s creamy and rich – without oils or dairy. Oh, and it’s low calorie! A warm bowl of this after an afternoon of skiing will warm and fill me up without making my ski pants tighter. (Now if only we could find a low calorie substitute for giant gooey chocolate chip cookies!) Although lobster mushrooms can be expensive, they definitely add the look and texture of real lobster chowder to the soup. And, when you saute them in oil they give off this rich buttery scent just like lobster – but in vegetarian form. Can’t find lobster mushrooms (or think they are too pricey)? Regular white button mushrooms chopped into large pieces and sauteed are a great substitute too. Hate mushrooms? Leave ’em out. (But we need to have a talk on why mushrooms are awesome!)I definitely want to make a large batch of this and freeze it up in Vermont so that we can have easy lunches, or ready made dinner when we get up there late on Friday nights. I may also experiment with a more traditional chowder using celeriac since I think Joe has had about enough of squash to last him a while.
Tip: if you are going to freeze the soup, try storing it in small batches so you can defrost and heat it up as you need it!Later this week I have some more fun recipes and a giveaway for two lucky readers! We are about to start prepping for Thanksgiving folks, woohoo!