When we think of comfort food, homemade soups rank up there with the top 10. It may be a soup recipe from our childhood, an offering a dear friend loves to share or simply one that we developed ourselves. There is definitely no doubt. Soup is comforting any time of the year.
My friend Dennis shared with me his memories of growing up in Connecticut and learning to make Clam Chowder from his dad and Aunt Florence. Every Fourth of July, his family hosted a reunion, which included anywhere from 70 to 100 people. This reunion included family members, friends and neighbors from miles and miles around. Along with all the traditional food fanfare, their homemade clam chowder was the main attraction.
A bushel of fresh clams would be purchased locally that morning. Then the process of chowder making began. The dicing of ingredients was overseen by Aunt Florence and she did not hesitate to inform you if your dicing skills needed improving. “Smaller is better!” she would say. Those years of apprenticeship enabled Dennis to develop a clam chowder with a delicious clear broth (Rhode Island style) that I have been fortunate enough to enjoy.
Also featured today is a pork and cabbage soup from another friend of mine. Charlie uses leftover pork BBQ. He often has get-togethers with his MG club where tons of pork BBQ is served. Here’s one way he likes to use the leftovers.
½ bushel Co hog Clams
10 lbs. potatoes, diced (skins on, optional)
1 lb. salt pork, diced
3 to 4 onions, diced
Fry pork slowly until golden brown. (This provides most of the salt in the clam chowder.) Add onions, cover with water and sauté until onions are cooked, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Scrub clams until clean. Steam in about 1 to 2 quart of water until clams open. Remove clams from broth. Save broth and dice clams.
Combine broth, pork and onion mixture, and potatoes. Cook until potatoes are done. Add clams. If more broth is desired, add store bought clam broth. Eat, Eat, And Eat!
Note: This recipe can be reduced to half and will still serve an ample amount of guests.
Charlie’s Pork and Cabbage Soup
6 cups pork stock made from the bones of a pig pickin’ (or 6 cups chicken stock)
1 lb. chopped pork BBQ
1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
½ c. to 1 c. baby carrots, thinly julienned
½ or more of a cabbage head, shredded
1 t. minced garlic
2 T. olive oil
¼ c. of your favorite BBQ sauce
Hot sauce, opt.
Smoke flavoring, opt.
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large stockpot, sauté the onions and carrots in the oil for several minutes to soften. Then add the shredded cabbage and continue to sauté until the cabbage has softened. Add the minced garlic, the stock and the pork. Bring to a boil and let simmer. Add about 1/2 of the BBQ sauce, let simmer for a few minutes and then taste.
Adjust the flavor by adding the remainder of the BBQ sauce and more, if desired. Add hot sauce, if desired.
Simmer on low heat for several hours so flavors can blend.