Each and every year after I was married my mother, Carolyn Knowles, would invite my brothers and I back home for a Christmas party. There were three of us in Pennsylvania for a short period of time and we would get together with our mom and step-father and his family for an afternoon meal.
Without fail, my mother would make two soups to start off the dining. My brothers would sneak off to the kitchen to try and get a bowl of soup before anyone else, and they most often succeeded. No matter, mom made enormous batches of food, as if she were feeding the Army single-handed, and so there was always more than enough to go around.
This first soup was known simply as "Fish Chowder" in my family because my mother wasn't able to afford the lobster for it - nor can I. I've never known it any other way than made with surimi, so I don't know that the flavor would be as memory-evoking made in any other fashion.
It seems rather heavy on the butter and flour roux, especially for a mere 8 cups of milk (half a gallon), but lesser quantities have yielded a thinner chowder, so I just do what mom says - this time, at least.
This was first posted to the internet by my sister-in-law, Krista at her blog, In the Kitchen with Krista.
2 sticks plus 2 Tbs. butter, divided
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 cup celery, sliced thin
1 cup carrots, small dice
1/2 cup green and red pepper, small dice
1 cup flour
1/2 gallon milk
1 to 1 1/2 lb. fish flakes (surimi) or lobster
salt and pepper to taste
1. Melt 2 Tbs. butter in a saute pan. Saute vegetables until well softened and set aside.
2. In large stockpot, melt the 2 sticks of butter and add the flour. Whisk together (making a roux). Once smooth, mix for a minute or two to bring out the nuttiness of the flour.
3. Pour in the milk and continue whisking. Cook until thick (coats the back of a spoon).
4. Stir in the sauteed vegetables. Add the fish flakes. Stir to combine and cook over a very low flame for about an hour to allow the flavors to blend very well.
This second soup is a cheese soup that is unlike any other I've ever had. While everyone else was at the fish chowder pot, I was off at the cheese soup one.
1/2 cup butter + 2 tablespoons - divided
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced red and green pepper
1/2 cup flour
1/2 gallon milk
4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a heavy soup pot. Add vegetables and cook over low heat until softened.
2. Add remaining butter and flour. Stir until smooth.
3. Add milk in a thin stream, whisking the entire time.
4. When soup begins to thicken, add cheese and stir until melted.
5. Cook over very low heat for 15 - 20 minutes.