White Bean Chowder

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White Bean ChowderIs this it?, I asked, bewilderedly looking out the car window at what could have been any dive in any sketchy area of any town.

With a nod, Mike assured me that this was in fact the place. 

White Bean Chowder 2

I was pretty excited though, not only because he had promised me several times that no matter what it looks like from the outside, I really would love this restaurant, but also because in my experience, restaurants that look shady on the outside often have the best food.

I like to think of them as best-kept secrets.

White Bean Chowder 3

Mike was right – I had one of the best meals that night that I’d had in a while. The sea bass (always one of my favorites) was cooked to perfection, and I even enjoyed the cannoli (which I’m not usually a big fan of). But the highlight of my meal was definitely the soup I had to start. It was creamy, full of vegetables and beans, with a hint of smoky flavor; the perfect thing to combat a chilly evening.

Here’s my version.

White Bean Chowder 4

White Bean Chowder
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 3 to 4 servings
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 slices turkey bacon, minced
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 medium stalk celery, finely diced
  • 1 medium carrot, finely diced
  • ¼ of a medium-large red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh minced thyme leaves
  • 1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 small tomato, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (15-16 oz) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
  1. Heat the oil in a 3-quart pot over medium-high heat; add the turkey bacon and cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and bell pepper and cook until starting to soften, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Turn the heat down to medium, stir in the garlic and thyme, and cook 2 minutes; stir in the flour and cook 2 minutes more.
  4. Add the stock, tomato, tomato paste, bay leaf, oregano, salt, pepper, and beans, and bring to a boil; turn the heat down and simmer 15 minutes (uncovered). (Mash a few of the beans against the side of the pot if you want a thicker soup.)
  5. Turn the heat off and stir in the cream and parsley.
  6. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as desired; serve.

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  1. says

    It may be getting warmer here but I’m somehow still craving thick delicious chowders…I can definitely see why this was such a memorable part of your meal! Looks amazing!

  2. says

    Agreed! Some of my favorite restaurants in Charleston are total dives. The soup looks absolutely perfect. White beans are so darn comforting

  3. says

    So true about hole in the wall restaurants! This looks yummy – I love chowder so much. We spent a lone week in coastal Maine a few years ago and I think I stopped at almost every chowder stand to “taste” how theirs compared. lol!

  4. says

    LOL! I have the same opinion on “shady” looking restaurants. They’re almost always the best. I actually look for shadiness for good food, lol! This looks delicious, Faith!

  5. says

    Loving that list of ingredients and it looks super tasty. Sounded a wonderful restaurant. I went to a Michelin place last weekend and the paint was off the walls outside, pretty run down looking but inside…. Whoah. I’m just name-dropping since hubby doesn’t take me out often, Lol. Great you discovered this chowder to share with us!

  6. says

    The chowder looks amazing! I think you’re 100% correct–often the best food comes from the shadiest looking (from the outside) places… We have a few of those secret gems to go to too…

  7. says

    This seriously looks incredible! I’ve been craving some kind of creamy chowder for a while now. I do like clam chowder, except the clams are my least favorite part if that makes any sense, lol. This looks perfect for me – I’ll be trying it soon!

  8. says

    Your chowder looks hearty and delicious Faith! Great recreation. That’s been my experience too! There’s a great family run Italian restaurant inside a run-down shack that I must of passed 1,000’s of times in my life afraid to go in. Big mistake. Now I know.

  9. says

    Have been longing for making a creamy chowder..yours look scrumptious, Faith! Your experience of that restaurant seems something similar to mine..I know the next time I pass through it, will certainly check in..

  10. says

    I use turkey bacon in my seafood chowders all the time…and this recipe of yours would be right up my alley. Bring on more legumes to my table any time ;o)

    Flavourful wishes,

  11. says

    Looks delicious! It’s always so nice to be surprises by a fantastic restaurant when it doesn’t look like anything special from the outside.

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