I am a soupaholic. I admit it. Spring, summer, fall, or winter…soup rocks. I think that the winter months bring out everyone’s craving for the hot, sometimes thick, slide down your throat and make you all warm inside type of meal that can be eaten with a spoon and out of a bowl. Always Enjoy!
Unless of course, you decide that soup doesn’t rock. Maybe you’ve eaten rocky soup. I’ll never forget the very first time I attempted to make a fabulous surprise dinner for my family. The meal just wouldn’t be fabulous unless I had 29 courses, one of them being soup.
It was supposed to be navy bean soup with ham and bacon. I love those too. Navy beans, that is. Anyway, I didn’t have a recipe book or anything with instructions. And I certainly didn’t want to ask anyone for help for fear of ruining the surprise. Geez…how hard could it be? Even a five year old could figure out how to make navy bean soup with ham and bacon…duh. So here’s what I did.
While on my secret shopping mission, I picked up a large package of Michigan Pea navy beans, some ham and a package of bacon. Dinner would be served around 5:00 p.m. that evening.
Around 4:30 p.m., I opened the package of navy beans, poured them in the pot, added the ham lunchmeat, opened the bacon, and poured in some water. Covered it with the lid and turned on the heat. That’s it folks. No salt, pepper…nothing.
Around 5 something or other, it was time to show off my wares (so to speak). Well, at first you could have heard a pin drop. I was all smiles and gushing over my impressive meal when all of a sudden…I started hearing “WHAT THE @&%# is this?” And one family member started spitting and a small gray rock landed on the table. Another started spitting out his mouthful and said that it was all rocks (but they were only uncooked beans…sheesh, such a teeny tiny little mistake). I mean, can’t a person get a break? I tried didn’t I?
No one sued. Or asked for leftovers. Or ate anything that I cooked for a loonnngggg time. Go figure.
Here’s my delicious and quick (well... sort of quick) New England Clam Chowder recipe that I promise will keep you in the good graces of your family and out of court.
Your Ingredients: (about 4 servings)
6 slices bacon, cut into small pieces (use your kitchen shears)
1 cup diced yellow onion
2 cups celery, thinly sliced
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
2 (6.5 ounce) cans of minced clams, drained and broth set aside
Clam juice (8-ounce bottle)
3-cups diced potatoes
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) Campbell's Condensed Cream of Celery Soup
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup half and half
1/2-tsp Old Bay seasoning
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
PLACE a medium-size heavy soup pot over medium heat, add bacon pieces, and sauté until almost crisp.
WHEN bacon begins to crisp, add the onion, celery, garlic and bay leaf and sauté until bacon is crisp and onion and celery are translucent.
ADD the broth from the drained clams along with the bottle of clam juice to the mixture.
ADD the diced potatoes, cover, and cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Stir the potatoes occasionally to prevent sticking.
ADD the minced clams, cream of celery soup (do not add water), heavy cream and half and half. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer.
STIR often and simmer for about 10 minutes.
ADD butter, Old Bay, salt, and freshly ground black pepper according to taste. (remember that the clam juice contains salt).
DISCARD the bay leaf and turn off heat. Allow the soup to rest (in the pot on the stove) for about 15 minutes.
LADLE the chowder into warmed bowls and serve with crusty bread or chowder crackers (you know, the little round soup crackers).