The best soup recipe I’ve ever had came from a man who was dying.
Paul was a brilliant engineer in his early 30’s, with a lovely wife and 2 young sons. An attractive and personable man, he was gray the day we met, having just come back from a morning chemo session.
In a quiet voice, co workers explained. Hodgkins Disease.
It started out as a friendly cooking competition. I was bragging about my holiday pies, claiming I made the best crust ever. I was one of 2 women who worked in that engineering office, the other didn’t cook at all.
So, the men took up the challenge. There were 4 or 5 of us, and I could tell by the results just exactly who had done the baking.
It turns out that Paul was the primary cook in his family.
We talked often about food, it was a safe common bond. He shared with me a clam chowder recipe that came from a renowned seafood chef in Salt Lake City.
It is handwritten on an index card, with cartoon-like illustrations, that I keep in a much loved recipe box.
I made it this morning. It is not only delicious, it evokes wonderful memories of a time, a place, a dear friend.
He passed away at home, with his family, in the early 1980’s.
New England Clam Chowder
Chop 1 cup onion, 1 cup celery and 2 cups peeled potatoes. Cover with the juice from 2 cans of chopped clams, reserving clams for later.
Add enough water just to cover vegetables. Boil gently till tender. 10-15 minutes.
Make white sauce in separate pan. Melt 1/2 cup butter, add 1/2 cup flour and stir. Gradually add 4 cups milk. (Can use any combination of milk or cream). Cook over low light till thickened.
Add white sauce to vegetables. Add reserved clams.
Season with salt, pepper, parsley flakes and a TBS of wine or wine vinegar.
Serve with oyster crackers, or crusty bread.