When the winter is long and cold, the answer to so many problems is simple: Soup. Children tend to go for a hot bowl of it without too much ado, it’s simple to make, and warms you inside and out.
But most importantly, if you teach your children how to make soup they’ll never starve after they grow up and leave home.
If you only cook one thing with children in the kitchen, soup should be the one.
Chowders are a hearty style of soup, appealing to children because they are simple and chock full of potatoes and milk or cream.
Usually they have seafood in them but not always.
Let children see what’s in the pantry and fridge that could be added to a batch of chowder after the base is made: canned or frozen corn or mixed vegetables, tuna or smoked or canned salmon, bacon bits, clams or shrimp, or chopped tomatoes are good possibilities for mixing and matching. (Try salmon and sweet corn. Or shrimp and peas. Or good old clams.)
To make the chowder base, chop up an onion. (Older children can work on this with supervision.)
Heat a half-stick of butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or soup pot on medium high heat, and add the chopped onion.
While the onion is sautéing, scrub and then chop up a few organic potatoes (no need to peel if they’re organic) into chunks about ½-inch square and add them to the pot.
If your family likes bacon, now is the time to dice some uncooked bacon into small pieces and add it to the pot, to sauté with the onions and potatoes.
Have the children occasionally stir while the onions and potatoes cook, until the potatoes are slightly brown and the onions are translucent.
If you’ve added bacon, let it get slightly crisp.
Then, pour enough water into the pot to easily cover the potatoes and let them float around a bit.
Add a bouillon cube for flavor, or if you have chicken or vegetable stock, use that instead of water.
Cover the pot and simmer on low until the potatoes are completely tender.
When the potatoes are done, the young cooks can decide if they want to turn their chowder into a seafood chowder, a corn chowder, or whatever.
Add the ingredients of choice and let everything get heated through.
Then, if you like a creamy chowder, add a cup of milk or cream, and heat through again.
If you prefer a tomato-y Manahattan style chowder, add some tomato juice or a can of chopped tomatoes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Chowder should be served hot, and will taste even better when reheated as leftovers the next day.
Accompany with bread and butter or garlic bread.
Hint: If you’ve got one of those kids who’ll eat creamy soup but not chunky soup, feel free to serve him or her pureed chowder – all the good stuff is still in there, after all.