By Nancy Finch, Food Columnist
As I was gathering the ingredients for Chicken Corn
Chowder, my husband said, “What are you making?”
Soup, I replied. “I was just thinking how good some
soup would taste,” he said. “It’s a soup night.”
Cold winter nights lend themselves to a hearty soup.
And that’s what we were dealing with, a cheerless, cold evening.
Before long, we were sitting down before a steaming
bowl of chowder. The “before long” is the important part here. I had on
hand all the ingredients for the chowder. Because the ingredients are items
that you, too, probably have on hand, you can likely make “homemade”
soup in a short time. As much improved as commercial soup may be, it sure
doesn’t touch homemade, at least to my thinking. If there’s anything I
hate to do, it’s to run to the store when I get an urge — as in this
case — for soup.
What made the chowder especially easy were my
always-on-hand boned chicken breasts in the freezer. If you have a similar
stash, just cook them quickly on top of the stove with a little water and
then chop when done.
Pasta E Fagioli or “Pasta-and-Bean Soup” wasn’t
as fast, because I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand. But it
didn’t take long, especially using canned beans.
I first ran into the Italian combination of pasta and
beans in soup years ago and it struck me as an odd combination. I had
interviewed and written about an Italian woman who shared her favorite
pasta-and-bean soup recipe. If you haven’t tried this duo, do. Also, if
you’re looking for “hearty” on a cold winter’s night, this is it! I
couldn’t find the Ditali pasta called for, but it is a tubular pasta like
a small manicotti. I did find “elicoidali,” also a similar tubular
pasta. These thicker pastas hold their shape and are chewy, an important
element in pasta-and-bean soup.
Chicken Corn Chowder
Directions: In large soup pot, place bacon and
cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until crisp. Pour off
excess fat. Add celery, onion and carrot and cook until vegetables are
tender. Stir in flour, cook 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly add stock, whisking and
scraping sides of pan. Add chicken, potatoes, corn and poultry seasoning and
cook about 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir in cream. Heat 3 to
4 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 8 servings.
Pasta E Fagioli (Pasta-and-Bean