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Archive for August, 2004

Tuna Chowder

The Soup Lady has a can of Italian-style tuna fish packed in olive oil buring a hole into her pantry shelf and cannot rest until it is put to good use. Once again, we turn to The Art of Making Real Soups (Marion Tracy, 1967) for a good idea. The introduction to this recipe simply says “An easily assembled chowder for two.”

Tuna Chowder
1 potato, peeled and diced
1 onion, peeled an diced
1 branch celery, diced
2 cups stock {or 1 cup water plus 1 cup milk}
1 can tuna, drained
1/4 cup hot heavy cream

Simmmer the vegetables in the stock or water and milk until half cooked, about 10 minutes. Add the tuna and simmer until the vegetables are cooked but still firm. Serve with 2 tablespoons of the hot cream in each bowl.
Serves 2

This soup looks bland but has a bossy attitude – I just hate to see it looking so anemic. The Soup Lady adds one small carrot, peeled and diced to the list of ingredients, not so much for the flavor as for the color. That is the same reason to garnish with some fresh chopped parsley. A pinch of red pepper flakes near the end of cooking adds a nice zip. Sometimes I think it’s a good idea to use the olive oil that is drained from the canned fish to saute the vegetables before adding them to the broth; other times, I leave well enough alone.

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Don’t let the ease of preparation fool you – this soup is hearty and filling. Things were different in 1967, I guess, because almost every soup recipe in this cookbook comes with a suggestion for accompanying dishes to make a complete meal. The menu for this one is:
Tuna Chowder
Pizza
Fresh Fruit

Whatever. We got away easy this time. The suggestions come without recipes of their own and often leave one wondering, especially about the fixation on clams – other soups are paired with clam pie, clam pancakes and salty clam sticks.

1967. Go figure.

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Announcement: It turns out that “Sophie” is the most popular Grandma name for reader submissions at The Soup. If your Grandma was named Sophie, then please raid her recipe box and send in her soup recipes so you can be part of the trend. Reader Don K. writes in to share his Grandma Sophie’s recipe:

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Dear Soup Lady,

I’m enjoying your soup site. Here’s a soup recipe that’s been in our family since the 1960’s and always keeps popping up. It’s a couple generations down the line now and everyone still seems to really love it and it couldn’t be simpler to make. It goes really well at brunches, etc. or just anytime. It’s also a “pretty” soup to serve. My kids think of it as an old family recipe, yet I can remember Grandma Sophie (I have one too!) being excited over this recipe when she found it, probably in some newspaper or magazine. Anyway, enjoy! NOTE: There is no milk in this dish. Don K.

GRANDMA SOPHIE’S POTATO CHEESE SOUP
5 thinly sliced potatoes
3 shredded carrots
1 lg minced onion
½ box frozen peas
½ lb Velveeta, chunked
salt, pepper, & garlic powder (to taste)

Place potatoes, carrots & onion into a pot, cover generously with water and boil until carrots are done. Add peas, and continue to boil until peas are cooked. Reduce heat to simmer, add cheese. (Do not boil after cheese is added.) Add salt, pepper to taste. Add just a hint of garlic powder. Serve hot.

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If you are wondering if there is milk in Velveeta cheese, then you must read this article from Chemical & Engineering News where Steve Ritter studies Title 21 Part 133 of the FDA’s U.S. Code of Federal Regulations and clarifies it for us:
“For the record, Velveeta is pasteurized process cheese spread and Velveeta Light is pasteurized process cheese product. Cheez Whiz is labeled as pasteurized process cheese sauce, although that type isn’t noted in the Code of Federal Regulations. “

Now you know.

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brown_boxAs you might know by now, the Soup Lady does not care for chocolate but in the best interest of my readers, I will suffer it to tell you about this little brown box that came into my possesion recently. The Soup Lady has just lately returned from a magnificent holiday at Denver’s Brown Palace Hotel. Among the many luxuries offered there was this nighttime turndown: a box of the famous Brown Palace toffies. Ever the mannerly guest, the Soup Lady politely played along with the building excitement when this treat was announced, but knew that chocolate was involved and that did dampen her enthusiasm just a bit. Since the only soup consumed on this particular trip was a pasty concoction that was somebody’s idea misguided idea of French Onion Soup made with a red beer base (Quick Review: Yuck!), I will evaluate the toffies.

7_toffies Repugnant chocolate coating notwithstanding, I think it only fair that I share the taste test with you here. There were seven toffies cradled in the neat little package. Obviously hand-made, they had some variations in appearance but were nearly uniform in shape and heft. They did not travel well crammed into my suitcase, unless that damage was inflicted by the TSA agents as they hamhanded their way throught it in an effort to identify my 3 cansisters of suspected terrorist hairspray.

bittenThe toffies were firm to the touch and covered with crushed almonds top, sides and bottom. Bravely, the bite was taken and although the candy did put up some resistance, it was not a tooth-shattering experience. The toffee yeilded to just a slight bit of presure and broke off without crumbs or bits flying about.

I was expecting one of those heavy, take-your-breath-away kind of overly sweet candy experiences but while this candy was rich and buttery, it was also light. There was a smoothness to the center as it broke away in horizontal sheets that reminded one of sheets of mica spliting apart. Once it was seperated and in the mouth, it melted away with amost no chewing required. All in all, I’d give this 4 out of 5 possible soupstars. If there was no chocolate involved, it would have been an improvement, but maybe that’s just me.

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The Ears of Charlie Twofish

The Soup Lady just adores the taste of Linguine with White Clam Sauce but there are so many tribulations that go along with it, aren’t there? The first set of problems comes with the making of the sauce – trying to hang on to those sneaky little bivalves to chop them up can be so tiresome. The next challenge is in the eating – the Soup Lady finds it so disadvantageous if one has to pursue the elements of a meal around the plate. All that unraveling and of course, the spectacle of the unchopped clams right there in front of you … well, it’s not for the more delicate among us, is it now?

You will be glad to know that the Soup Lady has solved these messy problems –now you can have the taste experience without the mess and bother! Here is my humble little offering – a dish equally influenced by sunny Italy and rainy Sopranoland. I could just call it Pasta with White Clam Sauce That Has Tuna Fish Mashed Up Into It, but it really deserves a more lyrical name so here it is: The Ears of Charlie Twofish .

twofish.jpg

The Pasta: I box of orecchiette. One of the problems with the traditional Linguine with White Clam Sauce is that you start twirling up the linguine and you suddenly realize “Wait, this is mostly just linguine because the sauce keeps slipping off. What the heck?” To combat that , the Soup Lady prefers the little cup shaped orecchiette. (This is supposed to translate as little ears and I guess they do look like that if the ears you have in mind belong to Topo Gigio.) You could easily use small shells, but this bowl-shaped pasta really can carry a big load of solid bits from the sauce and that’s really what you want, isn’t it?

The fish: I can of Progresso White Clam Sauce, 1 can Italian-style tuna fish packed in olive oil. Now you can go around waiting for the clam boat to come in and start picking out just the ones you want, and then go with the scrubbing, the steaming and the chopping , or you could put your faith in a can of Progresso White Clam Sauce. Don’t be a snob – this is good, its safe and its dependable. The real taste sensation comes when you open a can of tuna packed in olive oil, mash it up with a fork and add the clam sauce to it. The tuna adds texture and flavor and is overall much richer than clams sauce alone. Don’t let your experience with the anemic Solid White Tuna in Spring water influence you against trying this – I’m telling you it’s a different thing altogether. Don’t be afraid.

The Sauce: onions, garlic, butter, salt , pepper, dried oregano, fresh parsley , red pepper flakes. Chop a small white onion into a fine dice and gently sauté it in 2 tablespoons of butter. Along with 1 clove of minced garlic. Add a tablespoon of dried oregano, ¼ cup of chopped fresh parsley and a dash of salt and stir over low heat until heated through. Add the fish mixture to this and then some fresh black pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Taste to adjust seasonings – you may need more salt at this point. Add the cooked pasta and mix.

The Garnish: top with more chopped parsley. You can mix in some fresh chopped tomatoes if you like, but I’d try it my way first. Add the tomatoes the second time around.

The Compliments and the Credit: At this point, you must be prepared to receive all manner of complements. Your guests will be amazed at the familiar and yet enhanced flavors in this dish and they will thank you because they are not compelled to make awkward maneuvers to keep slippery linguine on their forks. You must tell them that this culinary marvel was created by the Soup Lady, or possibly her Italian-American neighbors and the Soup lady just copied it.

But I did invent the name

Serve an uncomplicated salad of bitter greens with this, say something with a lot of chicory and arugula. End the meal with some fresh fruit. Please don’t mess this up by trying to add grated cheese – you don’t need it and it will nullify the kick of the red pepper flakes.

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Hello, Souplings!

Greetings, Souplings! It’s the Soup Lady here, just getting used to the place before I move all of my stuff in. Republished below is the first post that was entered on the original site at Blog-Spot on 9/23/01:

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What is this?

Welcome to the plog (short for souplog.)

I’m planning on documenting all of the soup that I make at home or consume elsewhere.

Here is where I will post the recipes for the soups that I make, or tell the tale of soup that I had that was prepared by someone else.

Doesn’t sound too exciting? I didn’t want to break all the news at once – hang onto your hats: I will also be taking camshots of the soup I prepare as it is served in my collection of vintage American dinnerware!

As soon as I get a camera.

This blog design will compliment my dishes perfectly. As a matter of fact, I may even throw in some facinating details about the pattern of the dishes that are showcased. And maybe a shot of the dishes when they are not in use.

This could be good. This could be very, very good.

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The astute reader will notice that the term “plog” was coined here long before Amazon.com put their mitts on it. And before the guys at PlogWorld, too. That should give you all some idea of what a trend setter I am.

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