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Patti Howerton: Staying in? Soup’s on!

When the weather is cold out and we need something warm to cheer us up as we “stay in” during this time of so much turmoil and sickness, soup is always a real comfort. “BEST COOKING THIS WEEK.” BE SAFE.

CORN CHOWDER
• 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
• 1 medium onion, finely chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tsp. dried thyme
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
• 1 1/2 cups water
• 4 medium potatoes, unpeeled and diced
• 1-16 oz. bag frozen corn
• 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
• 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
• 1/8 tsp. dried tarragon

Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onion; cook 5 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic, thyme, tarragon and salt and pepper; cook 1 minute, stirring. Add broth and 1 1/2 cups water; bring to a simmer. Add potatoes to simmering broth; cook 30 minutes, until cooked through. Stir in corn kernels and tomatoes; cook 20 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in vinegar. Garnish servings with sour cream. Serves: 4.

CLAM CHOWDER
• 2 tbsp. olive oil
• 2 stalks celery, sliced
• 1 large onion, finely chopped
• 1 large carrot, chopped
• 1/2 tsp. crushed red-pepper flakes
• 2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
• 3 sprigs thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried
• 2 – 28-oz. canned whole tomatoes
• 1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
• 2 – 6.5-oz. cans chopped clams, drained
• 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Heat the oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the celery, onion, and carrot and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook 1 minute. Add the potatoes, thyme, clam juice, tomatoes (and their juices, crushing the tomatoes as you add them), wine or broth, and 1/2 cup water and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, 8-15 minutes. Stir in the clams and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. Serves 4. Top it off with smoky croutons; Toss 4 slices thick country bread (cubed) with 2 tbsp. olive oil and 1 tsp. smoked paprika. Toast in the oven at 400 degrees until golden brown. Top your chowder.

SAUSAGE CHILI
• 1 lb. bulk pork sausage
• 15 1/2 oz. can chili beans, drained
• 14 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes
• 3/4 cup uncooked brown or white rice
• 1 medium chopped onion
• 1 tbsp. chili powder
• 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
• 1 tsp. prepared mustard
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1/8 tsp. garlic powder

Brown the sausage in a skillet. Stir frequently to break up clumps. When the meat is no longer pink, drain well of any drippings. Spoon meat into a 5 qt. slow cooker. Add all the other ingredients to the slow cooker. Cover. Cook on low for 7 hours. Stir 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese in during the last 10 minutes if desired. Serves: 8 servings.

HINT OF THE WEEK: Hamburger is hamburger, right? WRONG! The cheapest grind, usually labeled hamburger or regular ground beef, contains a variety of beef cuts. It also contains more FAT. But if you are making patties that’s ok, even in main dishes IF YOU DRAIN THE MEAT! The leaner cuts of ground beef are ground chuck or ground round. They have less fat, but are pricier in cost. It is all up to you as the buyer and cook.
P.S., Keep a look out for specials

Patti Howerton is a retired accountant and caterer and can be reached at phowerton@ gmail.com