Soup of the Week
Author: Loren Ackerman
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Soup of the Week

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Soup of the Week

Gourmet Soups at Home

Corn Chowder:

Preparation: Generally a "Chowder" would imply that the ingredient list includes bell pepper, and potatoes. Most, but not all, chowders are a cream based soups. Peel and dice (3/8"square) the potatoes and partially cook them until they are aldante (not completely soft). Prepare vegetables including 1/2 cup onion, 1/2 cup celery, and 1 green bell pepper with a medium dice(1/4"square). Prepare a cream base, and add all of the ingredients listed except the corn and prepared potatoes. Bring the soup back to a boil, and cook slowly until the vegetables are cooked aldante, then add the corn and potatoes. Bring back to a boil, season to taste, and serve.


3 cups chicken stock
2 cups half and half
1 can kernel corn (add juice to the cream base)
1 can cream corn
2 large or 3 medium potatoes
1 green bell pepper
1/2 cup each medium diced onion and celery
3-4 Tbls. Cornstarch + water (add to preferred thickness)
salt, pepper, garlic to taste

Cream Base:

Put 4 cups of chicken stock into a kettle and bring to a boil, mix whitening agent into stock, I prefer a pint of half and half, and bring back to boil. Thicken your mixture, while stirring, until the desired thickness is achieved, it should stick to a spoon. When you add the potatoes, the potatoes may absorb liquid so if the soup gets to thick add a touch of milk or water.

Creating a Cream Base:

For the majority of cream soups you want to start with a chicken stock (interchangeable with water and chicken base, or bullion cubes to taste). There are several ways to whiten a cream soup, for a family try 1 pint of half and half. Alternate ways to whiten the soup are with 1 cup heavy cream, milk, or if you want a particularly rich soup combine powdered non-dairy creamer along with any of the other whiteners. Bring your mixture to a boil and then thicken, while stirring, until it is the consistency that you desire, or until it sticks to a spoon. One spice that will really change the richness of the cream soup is a small amount of garlic. Add other ingredients.

Experiment with the ideas on this report, and find out what your family truly likes, and have a little fun, have the kids help or whatever it takes to have a positive day.

Stock vs. Base:

For home use a good jar of base, or bullion cubs are the best options. Look at the ingredient list for actual animal content, and if you are sensitive to MSG, there are quite a few good bases that are MSG free. If using a salt based base, donít add salt. Judge the beef or chicken flavor by the salt content, if you need more salt simply add more base. Remember when judging the amount of salt that not everybody has the same tastes, so better less than more. So if I write salt and pepper to taste, this is based on using a stock.

Chicken Stock:

You can use raw or cooked chicken, cover the chicken with water; add celery, onion, carrots, and a bay leaf; boil with a slow rolling boil for at least a couple of hours and strain. While most of the flavor will remain in the stock, if you wish you can de-bone the chicken and add it to the soup, but this is a matter of taste.

Roux vs. Cornstarch:

While most, not all, restaurants use a roux to thicken their soups, for home use I prefer using a mixture of cornstarch and water. A roux is a mixture of even parts drawn butter and flour. To make a roux heat drawn butter then add flour until it is thick, cook on medium heat stirring often until the mixture smells like a fine pastry. This mixture can be added to a boiling soup, while stirring, until the proper thickness is achieved. Unless you are familiar with using a roux you may get lumps. Sometimes if you boil the soup for a while, and if the roux is properly prepared, these lumps will dissipate. You can also make a finger roux which is one part stick butter mixed with one part flour. Add ingredients together and mix with fingers, again add this mixture to a boiling soup until the proper thickness is desired. While roux takes experience to use properly, you gain a small richness in flavor.

I think you probably have used cornstarch and water, but just in case pour some cornstarch in a bowl and cover it with just enough water so that the mixture is easy to mix (I use my fingers). Add the mixture slowly to your boiling soup, while stirring, until the proper thickness is achieved. Note: it takes about a minute to know the exact thickness when using cornstarch so start a little thin. This process is very forgiving and if you need to add more cornstarch later thatís fine. Sometimes Iíll add this mixture, not only to cream soups, but maybe just a little to chicken noodle soup for instance, just to make the goodies float.


Salt, pepper, and garlic (I prefer minced garlic in oil, but you can use any type of garlic) are the seasonings most used in soups. Some people will add 1 bay leaf to soup, and to release the flavor break the leaf in half, but if youíre not familiar with the flavor of bay leaf try using only half a leaf first. Other seasonings you may like in any soup depending on your tastes include a blend of Italian seasonings, thyme, rosemary, or basil. Try different things sparingly, but remember that the flavor of these herbs will be released gradually so donít add too much.

New England Clam Chowder:


1 can clam juice
2 cups half and half
1 cup non dairy coffee creamer
3 small cans chopped clams
2 large or 3 medium potatoes
1 red bell pepper
1/2 cup medium diced celery
1 cup medium diced onion
3-4 Tbls. Cornstarch + water (add to preferred thickness)
salt and pepper to taste.

If you choose to adapt this recipe into a yummy New England Clam Chowder, you can substitute the chicken stock with a 44 ounce can of clam juice, use 2 to 3 small cans of chopped clams in place of the corn, and for color use a red bell pepper in place of the green bell pepper. I may use alternate, or extra, whiteners for this use. In this type of application, I would skip the garlic since the onions are from the same vegetable family, and with the clam juice you should already have a robust flavor.

Well I believe that we have covered cream soups well enough for now, and I will move on to a nice French Onion garnished with real Swiss cheese and a crouton for next week.

Tip of the week:

Cross contamination can be as big of a problem at home as it is in a restaurant, and most mild stomach irritation are not related to influenza. Make sure after preparing any meats to clean your cutting board well with warm water, and a very small amount of bleach (1 ounce per gallon of water). Have a bright and positive day!!

Please send any questions to:

Loren Ackerman

Copyright © 2008 Steven Ackerman Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.