Broccoli, Red Pepper and Cheddar Chowder

My mom found this recipe in Gourmet Magazine, I think, and made it for me years ago when I was first home from the hospital after the birth of my first child.  The recipe uses the water in which you cook the broccoli and I’ve found replacing the heavy cream it originally called for with low fat milk works well. So although it’s a chowder, it’s fairly guiltless. I labeled this as a 30-minute recipe, but it’s more like 40 minutes.  I think I have all of the ingredients as a standard in my kitchen, so it’s great to make as a last minute dish when the weather turns cold.  And to me, it always reminds me of early motherhood.DSC_0005

  • 1 small head broccoli
  • 1 large boiling potato
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 6 oz. sharp Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (1½ cups)


  1. Discard tough lower third of broccoli stem. Peel remaining stem and finely chop. Cut remaining broccoli into very small (1-inch) florets. Cook florets in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, 2-3 minutes. Transfer the broccoli with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking, then drain. Reserve 3 cups of the cooking water for the chowder.
  2. Peel the potato and cut into ½-inch cubes. Cook the potato, onion, bell pepper, broccoli stems and garlic in butter in a 3-4 quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add cumin, salt, mustard and pepper and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  4. Add flour and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.
  5. Add reserved cooking water and simmer (partially covered), stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
  6. Stir in cream or milk and cheese and cook, stirring, until cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Puree about 2 cups of the chowder in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids) and return to the pot. Add florets and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 2 minutes.

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