Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cookbook Thursday: Make tonight a 'Soup Night'

            At a certain hour on Stanton Street in Portland, people emerge from their homes, bowls in hand and head in the direction of a particular house. It’s “Soup Night” on this street, a chance for neighbors to meet, share a meal and enjoy the host’s soup of the evening. Everyone’s invited.
            Author Maggie Stucky cherishes her street’s tradition and offers it as an example for others nationwide in her new book, “Soup Night: Strengthening Our Communities One Bowl of Soup at a Time,” published by Storey. The cookbook offers 99 soup recipes and 40 recipes for accompaniments but goes beyond passing on a good meal. Stucky challenges her readers to start their own soup nights, in particular this Thursday, a soup night organized by the publisher.
            The following is a wonderful corn chowder recipe for our now soup weather (which would be wonderful with some wild Louisiana shrimp), but you can also follow along with daily recipes from participating blogs this week. Check out Storey’s Facebook page,, for more information, or for tips, stories, recipes and more.
Sweet Corn Chowder
From “Soup Night”
Serves 4–6
5 bacon strips, diced
1 small leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme or winter savory, or 1⁄2 teaspoon dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups milk
2 cups cream
2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen (preferably fresh)

            Directions: Brown the bacon in a large soup pot over medium heat until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat. Add the leek, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste to the pot and sauté until the leek is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the potatoes, milk, and cream, and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Simmer (do not boil) until the potatoes are tender. Add the corn and continue to simmer until the corn is tender, about 4 minutes for fresh or 7 minutes for frozen. Serve hot.
            Notes: A 1/2 cup of mushrooms or 1 cup of shrimp may be added when the corn is tender. To make ahead, prepare through step 3, but remove from the heat just before the potatoes are completely cooked. Refrigerate, then rewarm at serving time, simmering until the potatoes are totally tender. For large crowds, this recipe is easily doubled or tripled. To economize, use chopped parsley or chives as garnish in place of the shrimp.

Cheré Coen is a Lafayette freelance travel and food writer. She is the author of “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Tour of Historic Acadiana,” both from The History Press.