Coast Cooking

Try these easy soup ideas to kill the chill on an autum day — if we ever get one

Chowder is a versatile soup that can be made in a hurry.
Chowder is a versatile soup that can be made in a hurry. Special to the Sun Herald

Nothing beats a bowl of hearty soup on a chilly day.

We may be jumping the gun a bit, on the chilly day bit. It’s not exactly freezing outside, but a cool fall could arrive just about any time and putting together a great soup is not as difficult a task as you might think.

Here are a few basics to consider. A homemade stock is a big step forward in soup preperation, but it is certainly not essential to success.

Store-bought stocks are better than ever (and there certainly are plenty from which to choose), and it isn’t hard to fortify them and boost the flavor.

Also remember to season as you go, if you season all at once, it is easy to over season and then all is ruined. Most soups go well with crackers, but most are better when served with crusty bread. Check out some of the delicious breads many grocery stores are now baking in-house.

Chowder

This is a basic chowder recipe. You can add shrimp, clams or crab at the end or sweet potatoes or white potatoes in the beginning. If you go with seafood, consider adding a cup or more of clam juice, or, if you are feeling ambitious, make your own shrimp stock with shrimp heads.

Hint: if you want to use fresh corn, make sure to use a knife to scrape the cobs and get all that wonderful corn milk out. It will boost the flavor of your chowder.

1 chopped onion

3 stalks chopped celery

1 small bunch green onions finely chopped (garnish)

2-3 tablespoons finely chopped smoked sausage

2 cups corn

2 cups milk

2 cups cream

Butter

Olive oil

Black pepper, Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning, small pinch dried thyme

Sauté the sausage in oil until crispy, remove and set aside. Add the corn to the same pan (do not remove the drippings) and sauté the corn for 3-4 minutes. Remove and set aside. Add the vegetables, Season with Tony’s, add a little butter, and cook until tender. Re-add the sausage and the corn, (add the potatoes here if you are using them) sauté for 3 minutes, now add the cream and milk. Taste and season as necessary. Simmer until as thick as you want it (it should coat the back of a spoon). Add the seafood now if you like. Simmer just a few minutes. Serve at once with a garnish of green onions.

Goulash

If you were ever in the military and did a tour in Germany, you must have enjoyed this dish many times. It isn’t hard to make and just might bring back old memories.

1-pound cubed beef chuck

2 garlic cloves

3 chopped onions

3-4 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 tablespoons butter

Flour as needed

1 cup dry red wine

2 tablespoons paprika

Salt, pepper

Additional water as needed (or beef stock)

Season the onions with salt and pepper and paprika, then sauté in butter for 5 minutes, add the garlic, cook for 2 minutes more. Remove and set aside. Add the bacon to the pan and cook until done remove and set aside. Dust the beef in flour and add to the pan, add more butter as needed. Brown the beef, then add the wine to deglaze the pan. Cook until the wine is reduced by half. Re-add the onions and bacon and then add water (or beef stock) to cover, season again, making sure to use plenty of paprika. Simmer slowly for 2 hours. You don’t have to stay in the kitchen, just give it a stir when you walk by. Taste, make sure the beef is tender, re-season if necessary. Serve with crusty bread or wide noodles.

Meatball and Rice Noodle

This is a simple and quick soup, but you will definitely have to make a trip to the Asian market if you want to make it. The Mississippi Gulf Coast Asian markets are wonderlands for foodies, so give yourself plenty of time when you go.

1-2 packages frozen pork meatballs from the Asian market

4-6 cups Vietnamese style beef broth (used to make pho)

1-2 packages rice noodles

5 Spice seasoning

Bean sprouts, Thai basil, sliced jalapenos

Oil as needed

Thaw the meat balls, then cut in half. Sauté in oil until brown. Add the stock and carefully season with 5 Spice (a little goes a long way). Simmer until as flavorful as you like. Add the noodles and cook in the stock. When the noodles are done serve at once, garnished with the sprouts, basil and jalapenos.

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