Few things warm my heart − and fill my belly − as comfortably as a bowl of homemade soup on a cold evening. The picture at left shows the pot of chicken corn chowder (with potatoes) we enjoyed for our evening meal. (In contrast to my daughter who is her own worst critic, I am genuinely a crap photographer, and I’m sorry to say this photo underscores my lack of ability!)
If you’ll overlook my lack of photography skills, I think this photo illustrates (as best I can) my penchant for comfort food … because I am (to my very core) a comfort foodie. Wikipedia notes a nostalgic and or sentimental quality as a main component in one’s choices of comfort food.
In my case, defining comfort has a great deal to do with (1) how quickly the food may be prepared and (2) how filling it will be. I sometimes factor in a third possibility: will there be leftovers?
This chicken corn chowder recipe has become one of my favorites. First of all, both my husband and I love it! Due to lactose intolerance, the original recipe required some adjustments because it called for milk in the creamy base. My customary ingredients are as follows:
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 packages of Pioneer Brand biscuit gravy mix
(cold water as per gravy mix package)
3 cups shredded chicken breast meat
8 ounce package of frozen Baja Roasted Corn Blend
2 large peeled and diced potatoes
I sautéd the onion in olive oil, prepared the gravy mix according to package instructions and poured into the pot, bringing the mixture to simmer (and thicken). Depending on the thickness, I may add more water. Then I added the remaining ingredients and let the soup cook on low, stirring often, until the potatoes were tender.
With the addition of a garden salad, this makes a complete (and quick) meal. If one is inclined, you may add bread or crackers, but with this chowder, it’s hearty all by itself.
When I’m hankering for additional comfort food, I have a the ultimate perfect food to suit my yearning for comfort: homemade pretzels.
During my childhood in St. Louis, I recall vendors selling their freshly made pretzels on street corners. Yum! They wouldn’t be permitted to sell their products today (due to numerous food regulations) but those pretzels were absolutely the best!
Years ago, when I found this recipe (long before the internet offered a variety of similar recipes), I clipped it from a newspaper. (Don’t ask me which one.) On many a cold day, the doughy aroma of pretzels wafted through the house, delivering its enticing invitation to my children who were quick to gather around the kitchen bar in anticipation of reward.
As you can see from this image, the recipe is terribly worn, old and tattered from frequent use. But if you enjoy comfort food as much as I do, this one will certainly fit the bill. I don’t use coarse salt as recommended in the recipe, just a light sprinkling of table salt. Occasionally, I’ll opt for a cinnamon-sugar mixture as a sprinkle substitute (whenever my comfort food also has to be sweet).
These pretzels are delectable straight out of the oven … when they’re warm. If you decide to mix up a batch, be sure to save one for me! (Not really. You won’t believe how hard it is to save even one for later!)
To borrow from Charles Schulz, happiness is definitely a warm pretzel!