July 16, 2020

A la Carte: In This Time of Crisis, We All Need (American Indian) Soup for the Soul

As I write this column, I am using Tylenol to tamp down my fever that spiked to 100.4 last night. I wanted to stay in bed this morning, but Junie, my only cat, had another idea. So I got up, fed her, changed her water dish, added water and ice cubes to my own water bottle, and made tea. I feel much better now. I am quite sure what I have is just a little bug—no sore throat, no headache, no congestion.

I do want to tell you about my two visits to a supermarket the week of the March 9. As you know, I have lots of extra food in my big freezers and plenty in my pantry. What I decided I needed in those two visits was produce, especially onions, and hot dogs and rolls. I have no idea why I have wanted hot dogs but I bought six Hummel, skin-on wieners, and the softest rolls I could find. 

Here is what I didn’t understand: two different men had carts filled to the top with the following: one had at least 10 cartons of Coca-Cola, while the other’s cart included 12 rib-eye or porterhouse steaks …

I didn’t visit the paper aisles: I have plenty of toilet paper, paper towels and napkins. For those who have Wi-Fi and YouTube, look for the Bangor (ME) Police Department and Tim Cotton’s essay on what to use instead of toilet paper. It is a hoot.

As for feeding your family, if your pantry has beans and chicken (or veggie or beef) stock, make soup. If you have a chicken, roast it or boil it with onions, celery and carrots for soup. If your supermarket has rotisserie chickens, after dinner make chicken salad and sandwiches for the next day. If you have some ground chuck, there is chili and pasta. And if you have one of those rib eyes, turn on your grill.

I will be making this soup this afternoon.

Indian Soup

Adapted from a recipe by Sherwood Cadorette from Groton

“This soup has been in my family since the turn of the century,” he wrote, and, remember, he is talking about the 20th century, not the 21st. “Up until 1983, we attributed its origin to my great-great grandmother on my father’s side of the family. She was an [American] Indian. To my amazement, my sister told me that it originated about 1905 when a customer in my grandfather’s barber shop game him the recipe.”

Yield: 4 servings

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium to large onion, peeled and diced
1 14.5 ounces canned diced tomatoes with juice
1 small can creamed corn
1 cup milk
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
12 saltines, crushed

Place butter and olive oil in a large saucepan and heat until melted. Add onions and turn to coat. On medium-high, saute onions until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and corn; on medium-heat, allow the vegetables to heat, almost to a boil. Add milk and heat for a few minutes. Stir in sugar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

To serve: Place hot soup in four warmed cups or bowls. Crush saltines into each and serve hot.

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant.  She currently writes a cooking column called A La Carte for LymeLine.com and also for the Shore Publishing and Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day. 

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