Nothing is so satisfying in the fall than coming in from raking leaves, jogging or a pick-up game of touch football than to find a bowl of steaming soup waiting for you.
Some of the best, including those your ethnic grandmother always made from scratch, chicken soup and the two East Coast favorites, New England and Manhattan clam chowder.
Today, they can be purchased ready-made in cans, frozen or dry form. However, those store-bought substitutes can never equal the taste, freshness and satisfying flavor of home made. You can find detailed soup recipes on many websites or consult with your grandma or notes she may have left behind.
Of course, if you want to make real chicken soup, your grandma’s recipe is best, no matter whether she was Jewish, Italian, Polish or Chinese. Briefly, here’s how to do it. To feed four hungry people, put a four-pound chicken in a pot of cold water and bring it to a slow boil. Use just sea salt, unless your grandma was Hispanic and you must add pepper and chili powder.
After 45 minutes, toss in peeled carrots, an onion, cut up celery and parsnip. If you want it slightly spiced, add a clove or two of garlic and a bunch of dill. Slow boil for another 25 minutes. If you’re a health freak, bring the soup to a heavier boil for a few minutes while you use a big spoon to skim off fat and peel off the skin.
Serve the soup with croutons, or if your grandma was Jewish, you may feel guilty if you don’t make matzo balls. Check the internet for recipes or ask a gypsy lady to conjure up the spirit of your grandma to get her original recipe.
Right up there in nutrition and taste are the two favorite types of clam chowder. The main difference, as all lactose-intolerant gourmets will tell you, is that Manhattan clam chowder is cooked with tomato sauce, and New England’s main liquid is milk or cream.
Briefly, to get the New England flavor, the soup ingredients include chopped bacon, onions, celery and carrot bits, canned or fresh clams with their juices, cubed potatoes and lots of butter and heavy cream. For dieters, use just a touch of butter, and substitute liquid with skim or soy milk. Add small amounts of salt, pepper, garlic and bay leaves to taste.
For those who prefer the Manhattan type of clam chowder, the ingredients, other than milk versus canned or fresh tomatoes, are about the same.
Of course, choosing the best soups for fall is a matter of personal taste. However, when you’re coming home after a tough day at the gym, school, factory or office, any full-flavored and boiling hot bowl of soup will be welcome.