Dining In

Soup's On!

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

Ingredients:

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2 cups chopped chicken

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3 strips bacon, diced

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1⁄2 cup diced celery

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1⁄2 cup diced onion

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1⁄2 cup diced carrot

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3 T flour

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4 cups chicken stock

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2 cups peeled, diced potatoes

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1 can (15-oz.) cream-style corn

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1 cup corn kernels, frozen or canned (drain)

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1 t poultry seasoning (to taste)

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1 cup heavy cream or half-and-half

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Salt and pepper to taste

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 Soup)

Ingredients:

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1⁄4 cup olive oil

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1 cup diced onion

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2 cloves garlic, chopped

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4 cups cooked beans with 1 cup of their cooking liquid or

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2 (15-oz.) cans cannellini beans with their liquid

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4 cups chicken broth

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Salt and pepper to taste

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2 cans (15-oz.) whole tomatoes, chopped

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1 T Italian seasoning (or basil, oregano)

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1⁄2 lb. Ditali or any suitable tubular pasta, cooked

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1⁄4 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Directions: Heat oil in large soup pot. Add onion and garlic. Sauté until onions are translucent. Stir in beans and their liquid. Add broth and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Add tomatoes and their liquid. Add Italian seasoning. Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes. Stir in cooked pasta and cook an additional 5 minutes. Serve hot sprinkled with fresh Romano or Parmesan cheese. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

 

 

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