Soup is Good Food

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Clam Chowder

Soups are one of the great pleasures in the winter.  They are the ultimate in comfort food.  When most of us think of soups, however, we think of words like “pot” or “large” or “crock” and other words that denote lots and lots of leftovers.  If we are crafty and change our way of thinking soups on a smaller scale are completely achievable.  Plus, like most things in cooking, if you learn a simple base you can use the same technique to build a wide variety of warm and comforting winter favorites.  

Right Size Quantities

They key to making soup for one or two is to recognize that we may need to spend more money to save money.  Here is an example.  In this chowder recipe we call for one large baking potato.  Depending on the time of year the cost of a baking potatoes is between 50 cents

The basics of all chowder recipes
The basics of all chowder recipes

and a dollar.  Five pounds of potatoes might run two to three dollars (a significant “per pound” savings).  However, if we only use one pound of the potatoes and forget about the other four pounds all we have done is generate trash.  What we haven’t done is  “save” money.  The same is true for onions.  Two pounds might be cheaper but if we only need one small go ahead and get one small, regardless of the price per pound.  

 

When cooking for one or two it is important to always look for ways of buying in the quantities  we need rather than quantities that have better “value.”  If we can’t use the product the value quickly diminishes.  As an example, most mega marts along with local markets offer bacon by the slice from the meat case.  The butcher will absolutely give you three slices of bacon.  Forget about the cost per pound.  It is the quantity that is important.

Exploring Usage Oportunities

Some items can’t be bought in a quantity that we need.  In this example celery is the prime culprit.  First, how much is a bunch of celery really?  For a great soup or two isn’t it worth it,  especially if that soup never saw the inside of a factory or can?  Second, things like celery can serve a dual purpose.  While buying your celery, for instance, go to the deli and get some pimento and cheese, ham salad, chicken salad, or chip dip and presto!  Instant snack.  The potato

Instant potatoes in various sizes
Instant potatoes in various sizes

flakes are the same way. Although you may not be a fan of instant potatoes they are very quick and last for ever.  Plus, they make small packs of plain potato flakes which, again, will last a couple of soups.  In other words, if we can’t buy in the quantity we need we can look for ways of using up what we are forced to buy.

 

Below are three recipes for soups for two.  These make “meal” size portions of soup for two with one portion for a left over.  The quantities in parentheses are for one meal and one left over.

Clam Chowder

2 (1) cans of minced clams with juice

1 large baking potato (about ⅔), chopped into uniform pieces

1 (½) cup rich milk or half and half

1 (½) small onion diced

2 (1) stalks of celery, chopped

4 (2) slices of thick cut bacon cut small.

¼ (⅛) cup potato flakes

  1. In a heavy sauce pan render the bacon until fully cooked.  Drain all but about a tablespoon of the grease away from the bacon.
  2. Drain and reserve the juice from the clams.  This should make, about, one cup (one half) of juice.  Add water to make one (½) cup if necessary.  
  3. After bacon is fully rendered, add celery and onion to the pot with the bacon and 1 tbs of bacon drippings.  Cook over medium low heat until the vegetables just start to get tender.  About 5 minutes.  During the cooking add a little bit of salt and pepper.
  4. Add potatoes and clam juice.  Simmer until the potatoes are just tender.
  5. Add clams and milk.  Bring up to a simmer.
  6. Add potato flakes slowly until soup reaches the constancy you desire (you may not need all of the instant potatoes)
  7. Adjust salt and pepper to taste

Simple, right?  A soup for one or two with only some celery and potato flakes to contend with afterwards.  

Don’t like clams?  Here is the same thing in a potato  or corn version:

Potato Soup

1 large baking potato (about ⅔), chopped into uniform pieces

1 (½)cup chicken stock (commercial or boxed is fine)

1 (½)cup rich milk or half and half

1 (½) small onion diced

2 (1) stalks of celery, chopped

6(3) slices of thick cut bacon cut small.

¼ (⅛) cup potato flakes

Make the same way (omitting the clams of course and using the chicken stock instead of the clam juice).

Corn Chowder

1 large baking potato (about ⅔), chopped into uniform pieces

1 (½)cup chicken stock (commercial or boxed is fine)

1 and ½ (¾) cups frozen corn

1 (½)cup rich milk or half and half

1 (½) small onion diced

2 (1) stalks of celery, chopped

½ (¼) diced red pepper (optional)

½ (¼) tsp thyme

4(2) slices of thick cut bacon cut small.

¼ (⅛) cup potato flakes

Cook the same way as the clam chowder.  Add the corn when you add the potatoes

 

Soup is a great comfort.  It warms us up inside, it makes our kitchen smell good, and it feels “homey.”  I am a big fan when I am eating

Deli made ham salad and crackers.
Deli made ham salad and crackers.

chowders of crackers and ham salad picked up from a good deli.  Or a grilled cheese sandwich.  Or just the soup.  Regardless, these three one pot wonders are better than any can, frozen, or commercial soup out there.  They are quick and, for our size of household, very obtainable.

Chris