As you can probably imagine, I spend time reading cookbooks. Reading and paging my way through a cookbook is one of my most enjoyable pastimes. In the past year, I have really focused on cookbooks that are all about soup. Some of them are really terrific, and some I immediately know are not for me. Thank goodness for our library, so I don't have to spend my own money to find out which are which!
The thing is, terrific or not, all of the cookbooks share one thing: an entire section devoted to the love and pursuit of homemade stock. Each recipe is different, of course, but they all enthusiastically insist that if you don't start with homemade stock - whether it be beef, chicken, or vegetable (one actually gave a recipe for lamb stock!!!) - your soup is doomed to mediocrity.
Whatever. I'm freaking busy here, people. I'm teaching 3rd grade full time right now, I have a husband and two teenage daughters and a household to run... I am not inclined to spend the money on a whole chicken and vegetables and 6 hours out of my life making stock BEFORE I make the actual soup I want to eat. And as for the books that tell me to befriend my "local butcher" and get spare parts for stock... are you kidding me?
So no, you won't catch me telling you to go out and make your own stock. I am particular about the chicken broth I buy, though. I find most to be tinny and way too salty. I prefer a specific type of Swanson's Broth. I buy Swanson's Natural Goodness Chicken Broth with 33% reduced sodium. And when I want to make soup, I can get started immediately. I need soup for real life.
Corn and Kielbasa Chowder
adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten
makes 12 cups
14 oz. beef kielbasa, sliced into 1/4" rounds
1 T. olive oil
2 large yellow onions, diced small
1 T. butter (optional)
1/4 c. flour
1/2 t. freshly gound black pepper
1/2 t. ground turmeric (doesn't add much flavor but contributes a lovely yellow hue)
6 c. chicken broth
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled, cut into 1/4" dice
24 oz. frozen sweet yellow corn
1 c. half & half
8 oz. extra-sharp white cheddar cheese, grated