In the cold weather, there’s no better dinner than comfort food.
I mean, the idea of this is nothing revolutionary: a big bowl of any comfort food on a wintery day makes the whole house feel cozy and warm.
But there’s only so many times I can make a pasta or casserole, or toss something in the crockpot.
So this time, I got a little creative. And the result is this smoky kielbasa, beer, and vegetable chowder!
The reason this beer and kielbasa chowder works well as a cold weather comfort food is obvious once you look at the ingredients: there is cream, and potatoes, and thick slices of smoked kielbasa, with the earthy flavor of a hoppy beer underneath.
And I threw in some potatoes, carrots, celery, and onions to, you know, healthify it.
It helps that I know I’m not going to be pouring this winter body into a bikini anytime soon, you know? We can afford to live a little with a smoky, beer-y chowder.
You can let yourself go a little loose here with the ingredients; this is a soup, after all. Soups are made to let you stretch out a little in the kitchen.
After all, cold weather comfort food has another quality; you didn’t have to leave the warmth of your home to make it.
In this recipe, I used carrots, onions, and celery. But you could also throw in a handful of spinach, some frozen or canned corn, chopped rutabega – basically, whatever you’ve got on hand.
And if you’re short on cream? Make a separate pan of toasted roux by cooking together butter and flour until they’re light brown, then slowly whisk in milk and add the finished product to the soup after the stock/broth.
It’ll have a similar texture, though not as creamy as using cream. I mean, obviously. But if it doesn’t mean you have to run to the grocery store in a freaking blizzard and pick up a carton of cream, then that’s a good thing.
No kielbasa in the house? Use bratwurst! Or any kind of smoked or cured sausage, really. Every year my dad gets a smoked venison summer sausage that would be banging in this soup. Pick a sausage that has a bit of body and a good amount of flavor.
This is a bossy soup and it needs building blocks that speak loudly, if that makes sense!
And as for the beer – use what you’ve got. Try not to go crazy dry or hoppy here; something with a smooth and nutty flavor, like a brown ale or a mellow IPA. Think of something that would complement whichever sausage you would use, and go from there.
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 large russet or golden potatoes diced (about 1 pound)
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 2 large carrots diced
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 2 pounds smoked kielbasa sliced into coins
- 12 ounces beer
- 3 cups chicken or pork stock
- 1 cup heavy cream
In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the potatoes, carrots, celery, and onions and cook until the vegetables have started to soften, about 10 minutes.
Add the beer and deglaze the pan by scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to release any brown bits that are stuck there.
Add the kielbasa and stir to combine with the vegetables.
Add the stock and cream and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Cook 15-20 minutes on low, stirring occasionally, until the soup has reduced and thickened slightly. Remove from the heat and serve hot.