My husband and I have young children. Most of our friends have young children. And when we get together socially, there are … lots of young children. Most recently, when a group of us met for lunch, there were 15 little mouths to feed in addition to the six adults. (Okay, 4-month-old Catie doesn’t really count; she doesn’t eat any chili – yet.)
The easiest, most relaxing way we’ve found to have a meal together is by creating a soup lineup. By this we mean a counter top lineup of slow cookers, each filled with a different soup, chili or stew. In between we stick some loaves of homemade bread, some butter, someone throws in a big salad or bowl of fruit, and voila – we’ve got a hot, hearty meal for everyone, with minimal dishes and not much cooking by any of us. This means a lot more time to sit and talk (for the big people) and run and play (for the little people).
Here are a couple great recipes to try – and maybe even share at your next “soup lineup.”
Ham and Sweet Potato Chowder
1/2 c. cooked, finely chopped ham
27 oz can chicken broth (can use low-sodium)
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 T. dried minced onion
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 c. flour
2 c. milk (use whatever your family drinks – skim milk will make a thinner chowder, 2% or whole milk, much richer – you decide)
In a large stockpot, combine broth, ham, sweet potatoes, onion, oregano, parsley, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 12 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Combine flour and milk in a shaker or bowl, mixing until smooth. Stir into soup. Bring to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Be careful not to scorch or curdle milk. (Note: If taking this soup to a gathering, transfer to slow cooker and use “keep warm” setting. Stir occasionally.) Serves 4. Recipe may be doubled.
Curried Pumpkin or Squash Soup
2 T. butter
3 T. white flour
2 T. curry powder (or less, to taste)
4 c. vegetable broth or chicken broth
1-29 oz. can pureed pumpkin OR home-canned equivalent OR 1 butternut squash, halved, baked and pureed
1 1/2 c. half and half cream
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. white sugar OR honey
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 T. pumpkin seeds (optional)
For toasted pumpkin seeds: Arrange seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet or shallow baking dish. Toast in oven at 375 for about 10 minutes or until seeds begin to brown.
For soup: Melt butter in a large stockpot over medium heat. Stir in flour and curry powder until smooth. Cook, stirring, until mixture begins to bubble. Gradually whisk in broth, and cook until thickened. Stir in pumpkin and half and half. Season with soy sauce, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring just to a boil, then remove from heat. Garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds, if desired. (Note: If taking this soup to a gathering, prepare it to this point, then transfer to slow cooker and use the “keep warm” setting. Stir occasionally.) Recipe may be doubled.