Ad Spot

Winter in the time for stews, soups, chowders and chili

By Stephanie Williams Dean

Bless Your Spoon

 

Soup season’s upon us – as well as steamy stews, chowders, and chili. Soup is the food group that includes them all.

What’s generally referred to as soup can be made quickly with solid ingredients and seasoned liquid such as water or broth. Stews, on the other hand, are simmered over time in a covered pot, have less liquid, and include large, solid meat pieces. Creamy chowders introduce milk or cream, which help thicken the dish, and are full of chunky meats, usually seafood, with veggies.

And then there’s chili – in a league of its own. With thick, stew-like meats, tomatoes, beans, and, of course, spicy seasonings – chili can get hot and super personal.

Soup gets better when topped with a few of those highly seasoned, small oyster crackers. The vintage recipe works well with saltines, too. You can’t do better than serving a basket of seasoned, toasted breadsticks alongside the thick stews and chowders.

When you’re trying out a new recipe, add essential ingredients first. As far as seasonings go – either use what’s recommended or season to your taste – testing as you go. A long list of herbs can be daunting – and sometimes less is more.

No matter what recipe you choose to try, there’s one thing we can agree on – there’s something soul-warming about a bowl full of steamy goodness and a large soup spoon from which to slurp it.   

Be warned – etiquette books say it’s bad manners to make noise while eating – beg forgiveness later.

DOUG’S BURGUNDY CHILI

1 lb. lean ground beef

1 cup finely chopped onion

3 minced garlic cloves

2 cups water

14 oz. whole tomatoes, chopped

3 Tbsp. chili powder

1 tbsp. dried oregano

1 Tbsp. dried basil

1 cup Burgundy wine

3 cans drained, dark red, kidney beans

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a skillet, saute onions and garlic. Add ground beef and brown. Drain off oil.  Add meat mixture to a deep pot, add 2 cups water, chopped whole tomatoes, chili powder, oregano, basil, and 1 cup of Burgundy wine.  Simmer on low heat for 1 hour or longer. Add drained kidney beans and simmer. To finish, add 1 more cup of Burgundy wine. Salt and pepper to taste.

NAVY BEAN SOUP

2 cups dried navy beans

1 chopped carrot

2 crushed garlic cloves

1 ¼ cup finely chopped celery

1 ½ cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped potato

1 cup chopped tomatoes

Ham bone

Salt and pepper to taste

Soak beans overnight. Drain and add ham and 2 quarts of water. Boil 2 minutes. Cover, lower heat, and simmer for 1 hour or until beans are barely tender. Add remaining ingredients. Cover, and simmer on low heat until vegetables are tender.

MEXI-BEAN CHILI

2 Tbsp. melted, salted butter

1 chopped onion

30 oz. Rotel diced tomatoes

30 oz. rinsed, drained hominy

30 oz. rinsed, drained great northern beans

32 oz. chicken broth

2 tsp. sugar

¼ tsp. red pepper

¼ tsp. cloves

½ tsp. cumin

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

Salt to taste

Flour tortillas, sour cream, Monterey Jack cheese, salsa, chips

In large stockpot, melt butter, saute onions until transparent. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Mold a tortilla to the bottom of a bowl and make 4 cuts in the bottom. Ladle chili on top.  Top with sour cream, shredded cheese, salsa, and crushed chips.

HEARTY CROCKPOT CHICKEN STEW

3 lbs. boneless chicken

1 chopped onion

5 peeled, cut carrots

3 cut celery ribs

16. oz. thawed, frozen green peas

20 oz. chicken broth

6 oz. tomato paste

1 ½ cups water

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

1 tsp dried thyme

¾ tsp. paprika

½ tsp. rubbed sage

4 Tbsp. cornstarch

1/3 cup water

In the crockpot, combine chicken, onion, carrots, celery, and thawed green peas. In a bowl, combine chicken broth, tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, thyme, paprika, and sage. Pour over chicken and vegetables. Cover, and cook 6 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low. Before serving, remove chicken and hand pull. In a bowl, combine water and cornstarch. Stir into stew. Add pulled chicken to stew and cook 15 additional minutes.

OLD RECIPE OYSTER CRACKERS

24 oz. oyster crackers

1 ½ cup vegetable oil

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 Tbsp. lemon pepper

2 sm. pkg. ranch dressing, orig. flavor

In a large pan, pour oil. Add crackers and mix. Sprinkle with garlic powder, lemon pepper, and dry ranch dressing mix. Mix well. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 1 hour while stirring every 15 minutes.

BEEFY BEAN & CABBAGE SOUP

1 lb. ground beef

16 oz. red kidney beans

28 oz. drain, chop tomatoes, liquid reserved

½ medium cabbage

1 chopped onions

1 sliced celery rib

1 chopped green bell pepper

3 minced garlic cloves

28 oz. reserved tomato juice plus water

4 beef bouillon cubes

In a skillet, brown the beef and drain. In a large pot, add cooked beef, beans, tomatoes (reserving liquid), cabbage, onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic. Add the reserved liquid from the tomatoes plus enough water to make 28 oz. and the bouillon cubes. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.

HAM AND BROCCOLI CHOWDER

2 lbs. fresh broccoli

27 oz. chicken broth

3 cups whole milk

1 cup chopped ham

2 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 cup half & half

2 cups shredded Swiss cheese

¼ cup salted butter

In a pot, combine broccoli and about 14 oz. chicken broth. Cover and cook 7 minutes until broccoli is crisp-tender. Remove broccoli, cool, and chop coarsely. Add remaining broth, milk, ham, salt, and pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring occasionally. Stir in broccoli, half and half, cheese, and butter. Cook over low heat until thoroughly heated.

BLACK BEAN AND RICE SOUP

1 lb. dry black beans

6 cups water

1 chopped green pepper

¼ cup olive oil

1 chopped onion

2 minced garlic cloves

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

2 tsp salt

¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Hot, cooked rice

Sour cream

Wash beans and cover with water. Soak overnight. Drain and rinse in cold water and drain again. In a 5 quart pot, add drained beans, 6 cups of water, and green pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer while stirring often for 1 ½ hours or until beans are tender. In a skillet, heat olive oil. Saute onions, garlic, and cumin for 3 minutes. Stir in vinegar. Stir mixture into beans. Add salt and pepper. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes or until most liquid has been absorbed. Serve over cooked rice. Top with sour cream.

BAKED MEATBALL STEW

1 ½ lb. ground beef

1 beaten egg

1 cup fine breadcrumbs

¼ cup chopped onions

1 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. Crisco shortening

11 oz. tomato soup

1 can beef bouillon

½ tsp. thyme

1 lb. drained sliced carrots

1 lb. drained whole potatoes

8 oz. drained whole white onions

In a bowl, mix beef, bread crumbs, chopped onion, and salt. Shape into 24 meatballs. Brown in shortening in skillet. Drain fat. In a pot, add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil while stirring. Add salt and pepper to taste. Carefully stir in meatballs. Pour into casserole and bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes. Top with chopped parsley. You may use fresh vegetables using same amounts but boil in water until barely tender.

POOR MAN’S BREADSTICKS

Take day-old hotdog buns and cut lengthwise once. Makes 4 sticks per bun. Melt butter and garlic salt. Drizzle over sticks in the pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes until crisp and brown. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over them while hot.

FAMOUS HOTEL’S CLAM CHOWDER

½ cup small cubes of salt pork

1 stick salted butter

5 cups diced onions

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 cups diced potatoes

3 cups half and half

3 cups whole milk

4-8oz. cans undrained, minced clams

2 tsp. salt

½ tsp. thyme

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Hot pepper sauce to taste

In a heavy pot, cook salt pork on low heat until fat is cooked out and golden brown. Add butter and onions. Cook and stir until onions are tender. Blend flour in thoroughly. In a pot, cook potatoes 8 minutes or until tender with small amount of water. Drain potatoes and add them to the pot with butter-onions. Add half and half, milk, clams, salt, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce to taste. Heat thoroughly but don’t boil.  Makes 5 quarts of chowder.