Chowder for two: no big production

Soup: It doesn't have to take all day. It can be made with small quantities of vegetables and protein.

February 16, 2000|By Bev Bennett | Bev Bennett,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Homemade soup probably isn't on your menu too often. You may think you can't make soup in anything smaller than a vat. And maybe you've heard that you'll have to give up any plans for the weekend if you want to get that soup pot going.

Not so.

Yes, there are classic soups based on stocks that cook down for hours. And yes, if you're going to make a stock, you probably should be doing it for more than one or two people.

But you can make a delicious, robust chowder in 30 minutes or less, and you can prepare just as much as you want. Plan your recipe around vegetables. For an entree for two, you'll want about 3 cups of cooked vegetables. Add a little protein -- meat, fish, poultry or cheese -- for body and flavor, and enough liquid for the vegetables to float in, and you've got a delicious chowder.

That's the formula I use for Corn Chowder, a dish chock-full of vegetables cooked in a flavorful combination of chicken broth and half-and-half. I serve it alone or with crisp Garlic Toast for a quick meal.

You may find this soup is so delicious that you'd like to double the recipe and have extras on hand. That's fine, too. Corn Chowder freezes well. Just don't allow it to boil when you reheat it or the soup will separate.

Corn Chowder

Serves 2

1 small red potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 medium carrot, pared and cut into 1/2-inch dice

salt

4 teaspoons butter

1 small jalapeno chili, cored, seeded and minced

1 small red onion, finely chopped

kernels from 2 ears of fresh corn or 1 1/2 cups canned or frozen corn

2 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 cups chicken broth, heated

2 ounces finely chopped Canadian bacon

1 cup half-and-half

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

freshly ground pepper

Combine potato and carrot in small pan. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and cover vegetables with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium pan. Add chili, onion and corn and saute over medium heat 5 minutes. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add hot chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Stir in reserved potatoes and carrots, Canadian bacon and half-and-half and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in cheese, hot pepper sauce and pepper to taste. Adjust salt to taste. Serve immediately.

Garlic Toast

Serves 2

2 (1/2-inch-thick) slices Italian bread

1 garlic clove, halved

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon dried crushed oregano

salt

Rub each bread slice with half a garlic clove. Drizzle half of oil over each bread slice. Sprinkle with oregano and season with salt. Place bread on a baking sheet. Toast in oven at 350 degrees 5 minutes until lightly browned.

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