Our church started something new this year before our Wednesday Lenten Services; Lenten Soup Suppers. Families can sign up to make and serve soup either on their own, or with another family. Jonathan asked if we should make soup for one of the days, so we signed up along with the Laleman family. I tested a few ideas out on the family before deciding on Cheddar Corn Chowder.
Tuesday night, before heading to bed, I put 6 loaves of Rhodes Frozen Bread Dough into aluminum bread pans. I bought the disposable bread pans, since I only have two “real” ones…and I needed to make 6 loaves. This would turn out to be a bad idea, if you like your bread to look like the perfect loaf.
Wednesday morning, I baked the bread 3 loaves at a time. After turning the bread out of the pans and brushing butter over the top, the bottoms started to crush in a little under the weight of the top of the loaf. Obviously, the aluminum bread pans were made too narrow to support a baked loaf. I decided to make one more loaf, but this time I used a Bob’s Red Mill Potato Bread mix. I typically make this in my bread machine, but I used the directions on the mix to bake it in the oven. I also used my “real” loaf pan, and it turned out beautiful. Lesson learned.
After I was done with the bread, I chopped up 2 1/2 pounds of bacon, and cooked it up until it was crisp. I removed the bacon from the pot, and added 3 bags of frozen, chopped onions. If I were to cut the onions myself, I would probably still be crying! The onions were cooked on medium heat until they were translucent, and some were starting to brown. Both the bacon and the onions were left to cool, then put into containers to transport to church.
Next, I needed to peel and dice 8 pounds of potatoes. Uff da! At least the Twins were playing, and I could listen to John Gordon call the game while I diced. I put them into a large Tupperware bowl in a little water so they wouldn’t turn brown. Presentation, you know!
I measured out the flour, salt, pepper and turmeric, mixing them in a bag to make the next step easier. The prep work was finished…or so I thought. Right before it was time to head into church, I realized that I had forgotten to grate the white cheddar cheese. Fortunately, Jonathan jumped in to help me with that job!
It was also our turn to serve bars and coffee after the service, so I needed to bake a couple pans of the girl’s favorite bars. Viktoria requested Turtle Brownies, and Laura requested Chocolate Oat Bars (also called Chocolate Revel Bars). The Turtle Brownies take longer to make, so they were first. I do cheat a little on this one when I am in a hurry, and use a boxed brownie mix. While the brownies were baking, I melted the caramels and cream before mixing in the pecans. The caramel mixture gets dumped onto the brownies when they are hot out of the oven. Then you let the brownies cool. While they were cooling, I made the Chocolate Oat Bars. My favorite recipe for this bar is from the “Joy of Cooking” 75th Anniversary book. When the Turtle Brownies were cool, I made the chocolate glaze to go over the caramel part, then chilled the brownies before bringing them along.
We arrived at church around 4:45, about 1/2 hour later than what we had wanted. The Laleman’s already had their Chicken Noodle soup on one stove. While I finished my soup recipe on the other stove, Jonathan and the kids from both families helped cut and butter all of the bread, and set all of the serving pieces out. They finished setting up the serving line just as the soups were finished, and the first guests arrived.
This was also the last night for Butter Braid sales, so I baked up one last sample braid while Jonathan served the chowder. After supper was finished, I had to run upstairs to play my violin during the Holden Evening Prayer (which we use as part of our worship during Lent) while the other cleaned up the kitchen. The families who were scheduled to serve bars and coffee helped set up the trays of goodies, and served everyone as they walked out of the sanctuary. More food, and more fellowship!
I am tired, but it is a very good tired. There is something so satisfying about the making, serving, and eating of food in the company of friends. Soup is good food…both for the body and the spirit!
Cheddar Corn Chowder
- 8 ounces bacon
- 1/4 cup olive oil (can use a little less)
- 6 cups chopped yellow onion (4 large)
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric or curry powder
- 12 cups chicken stock
- 6 cups medium-diced white boiling potatoes, unpeeled
- 10 cups corn kernals
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 1/2 pound sharp white cheddar, grated
In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, cook the bacon and olive oil until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and butter to the fat, and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.
Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and turmeric and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and potatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Add the corn to the soup, then add the bacon, half-and-half and cheddar. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.