Here in Virginia we are dealing with the effects of a huge snowstorm. Well, huge for Virginia anyway. Eight inches is a lot when people don’t own snow shovels and the city has very few snow plows. Whether you live in the South and rarely have to deal with snow or in the North where snow is a fact of life for 4-6 months of the year, what better way is there to warm up than with some hot soup? (Besides hot chocolate, of course!)
Typical Virginia snow
Last night’s snowfall
Snow at the parents’ house in Michigan
You can never go wrong with the classic grilled cheese and tomato soup, and that ends up on our menu about once a month, usually on a chilly, gray, rainy or snowy day. I made homemade tomato soup once because I didn’t have any in the house, but usually I just stick with the cans and add equal parts milk and water. It really makes my husband’s day, though, when I make him the ultimate grilled cheese. He told me his mom used to make it, and I stumbled across a recipe in Taste of Home that looked like what he was describing, and we’ve been making it ever since.
Another winter classic is chicken noodle. I made this after our snow last week (all 2 inches), and it hit the spot. I rarely use a recipe when I make chicken noodle soup, so sometimes it turns out great and sometimes it’s just okay. Last week it was good, but I didn’t write down or measure any quantities, so I’ll just hope it’s as good next time!
Yesterday in anticipation of the snow we had Cheddar Ham Chowder, and we’ll enjoy leftovers today as we enjoy the snow from inside. I still had some leftover ham from Christmas in the freezer (even after making Leftover Hambone Soup a few weeks ago), so chowder was next up. Usually Velveeta goes into my potato and ham soups, but this recipe called for cheddar, and I am a convert. The chowder was thick and hearty, but had plenty of flavor and color thanks to the ham, carrots, and corn. Hubby was a fan, so it was an all-around success.
Note: The two recipes below both contain large amounts of cheese, so I would not recommend pairing them for a meal. The Ultimate Grilled Cheese goes best, of course, with tomato soup, although it’s also good with chicken noodle or chili. Some crusty French bread or fresh homemade bread goes well with the Cheddar Ham Chowder.
The Ultimate Grilled Cheese (adapted slightly from Taste of Home)
1 1/2 oz. cream cheese
1/4-1/3 C. mayonnaise
1/2 C. shredded cheddar
1/2 C. shredded mozzarella
Dash garlic powder
Dash seasoning salt
6 pieces of bread (French, Italian, or sourdough is great for this sandwich.)
Mix ingredients together and spread on bread. Butter the outsides of the bread and heat until brown and crispy on the stove.
Cheddar Ham Chowder (from Taste of Home, http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/cheddar-ham-chowder)
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 20 min. Cook: 25 min.
MAKES: 6-8 servings
2 cups water
2 cups cubed peeled potatoes
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup sliced celery (I didn’t have celery, so I upped the carrots a little and added some celery salt. Not sure if that’s the best way to compensate, but it’s what I usually do, and it tastes okay.)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 can (15-3/4 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained (I used frozen.)
1-1/2 cups cubed fully cooked ham (I used 2 cups because I had lots of leftover ham.)
1. In a large saucepan, bring the water, potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, salt and pepper to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until vegetables are just tender. Remove from the heat; do not drain.
2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in flour until smooth; gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
3. Add cheese and stir until melted. Stir into the undrained vegetables; return large saucepan to the heat. Add corn and ham; heat through, stirring occasionally.
Yield: 6-8 servings (2 quarts).
Originally published as Cheddar Ham Chowder in Country Woman March/April 1994, p33
And in case you weren’t feeling cold enough to make some soup already, this should motivate you!