Photo by Lara Ferroni from “The American Craft Beer Cookbook.” Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

Blackened Shrimp and Corn Chowder

Excerpted from “The American Craft Beer Cookbook” (c) John Holl. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

This satisfying chowder can restore even the most waterlogged sailor. Fresh-from-the-sea shrimp adds a salty kick. Pair with an amber ale, like Gritty’s Red Claws Ale, to fortify yourself against the elements and whatever’s coming next. Serve with oyster crackers, tortilla chips, corn bread, or another bread of your choice.

Makes: 8-10 servings

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium Spanish onion, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, finely chopped

2 medium banana peppers, finely chopped

1/2 cup red or amber ale

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined, preferably Maine-harvested

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn

4 cups fish broth

1 large sweet potato, baked and mashed

Fresh dill, finely chopped

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and banana peppers, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the ale and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking and stirring until the beer’s foam subsides and the liquid reduces by half, about 5 minutes.

2. Rinse the shrimp under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Toss the shrimp, chili powder, and paprika together in a bowl, coating thoroughly. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring once, until nicely seared, about 2 minutes.

3. Immediately transfer the shrimp to the soup pot, and then stir in the corn and broth. Bring the mixture to a light boil over medium-high heat and add the mashed sweet potato. Reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes longer.

4. Divide the soup among bowls and top with the fresh dill before serving.

Photo by Scott Phillips from “Fine Cooking Soups & Stews”

Baked Potato and Leek Soup with Cheddar and Bacon

From “Fine Cooking Soups & Stews” (The Taunton Press, $17.95)

Russets work for this soup since you’ll be pureéing it. Don’t use russets in any soup where you want the potatoes to stay in small chunks.

Yields about 6 cups; serves 4

2 medium russet potatoes (about 1/2 lb. each)

1/4 cup unsalted butter

2 1/2 cups sliced leeks (about 2 medium leeks; white and light green parts only), well washed

2 medium cloves garlic, minced

Kosher salt

2 cups homemade or lower-salt chicken broth

4 thick slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup sour cream

1 cup grated sharp Cheddar (about 1/4 lb.)

Freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbs. thinly sliced scallion greens or chives

1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Scrub the potatoes in water, pat dry, and pierce in several places with a fork. Set them directly on an oven rack and bake until very tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

2. Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and garlic, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the broth and 2 cups water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the leeks are very tender, about 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, put the bacon in a skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the bacon bits with a slotted spoon to a saucer lined with paper towels to drain and cool.

4. When the potatoes are cool, cut one of them in half lengthwise. Use a large spoon to scoop the flesh in one piece from each half. Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside. Coarsely chop the potato skin and the entire remaining potato and add to the pot with the leeks. Purée the contents of the pot in a blender until very smooth (you’ll need to work in batches). Return the puréed soup to a clean soup pot and reheat over medium low. Whisk the milk and sour cream until smooth and then whisk this into the soup, along with 1/2 cup of the Cheddar. Stir in the diced potato. The soup should be fairly thick, but if it seems too thick, thin it with a little water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with the remaining Cheddar, the bacon bits, and the scallions or chives.

Kamasouptra’s Classic Beef Chili

This beef chili is one of the most popular soups at Kamasouptra. It’s on the menu nearly every day. It gets a little heat from the jalapeno, and a little sweetness from the “secret” ingredient, Capt’n Eli’s Root Beer. Kamasouptra gets its beef from Middle Intervale Farm in Bethel.

Serves 4-8; approximately 48 ounces

Prep Time: 10 Minutes, plus time for the beans to soak

Cook Time: 2 Hours

1 pound ground beef

2 medium onions, diced

1 1/3 cup red kidney beans, dried, soaked overnight

1 14-ounce can petite diced tomatoes, canned, in juice

32 ounces water

1 medium jalapeno, only the stem removed, minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons chili powder

½ teaspoon dried oregano

8 ounces Capt’n Eli’s Root Beer

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

1-2 dashes Tabasco, or to taste

1 teaspoon black pepper, ground

1. At least three hours before beginning, preferably overnight, rinse the beans thoroughly and soak them in the 32 ounces of water.

2. Heat a pan, at least 2 quarts in size, over medium heat. Add the ground beef and cook about 50 percent, breaking it into bits.

3. Add the onions, garlic, jalapenos, and oregano, and cook until the onions are translucent.

4. Add the chili powder and cook for a minute or two until very fragrant.

5. Add root beer and bring to a boil.

6. Add diced tomatoes, beans and the water they were soaked in. Bring everything up to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the beans are soft and creamy. This should take about one hour and 15 minutes.

7. Skim any excess fat from the top of the pot and discard. Season with salt, pepper, vinegar and Tabasco to taste. The above amounts are simply a guide.

Cheddar cheese, sour cream, and minced onion would all make excellent garnishes for this soup.

Photo courtesy of Robert’s Maine Grill

Kale Soup with Chorizo

This kale soup from Brandon Blethen, executive chef at Robert’s Maine Grill is hearty fare that can be transformed into a vegetarian meal just by leaving out the kale.

Owner Michael Landgarten says: “Originally it was my idea to offer a kale soup because I used to eat it on Cape Cod — at Orleans and Truro — growing up. Down there it is a popular offering in seafood places. Then Greenlaw Gardens ended up being a great local kale resource. We could showcase a beautiful, local vegetable in a great dish.”

Makes: ½ gallon


1/4 cup carrots, small diced

1/4 cup celery, small diced

1/2 cup white onion, small diced

1/8 cup garlic, minced

1/4 oz 90/10 olive oil

2 ounces vegetable base

½ gallon water (hot)

10 ounces crushed tomatoes

10 ounces cannellini beans (not strained)

¼ bunch kale, stemmed and cut in bite size pieces

2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped


1. Place your oil in a pot over medium heat. Once hot, add in all of the vegetables and sweat until they are tender.

2. Add hot water and the vegetable base. Whisk until the vegetable base is thoroughly mixed in.

3. When the mixture comes to a boil, add the tomatoes and stir well and let simmer for about 10 minutes.

4. Once simmering for 10 minutes, turn off the burner and then add the cannellini beans and chopped kale; let stand for 15 minutes.

5. Add the thyme and oregano; stir and let stand for another 15 minutes.

6. Season with salt and pepper.

Adding Chorizo:

1 link chorizo (sliced in bite size pieces)

1. In a sauté pan add a small amount of oil.

2. Once oil is hot, add in desired amount of chorizo. Let the chorizo cook until crispy on each side.

3. Add to heated soup and serve.

Courtesy photo

French Onion Soup with Swiss Cheese

From “Junior’s Home Cooking” by Alan Rosen and Beth Allen

All it takes is one spoonful to know that Junior’s onion soup is something special. And they’ve been making it the same way since the 1940s, when Grandpa Harry was running the Enduro Steak House on the very spot where Junior’s flagship restaurant stands today. The soup cooks begin by sautéing white onion slices in plenty of butter, slowly and gently, until they are soft and translucent. Then they add a rich stock . . . Junior’s makes their own every day, but a good quality store-bought one works, too. Next comes a generous splash of sherry, followed with some slow simmering. Now the soup is ladled into individual crocks, topped off with one or two large croutons and a couple of slices of Swiss, then popped under the broiler, just until the cheese melts. It’s brought to the table still bubbling hot.

4 pounds Spanish onions

1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 tablespoon sugar

6 cups beef broth or stock, plus extra if you like (homemade or store-bought)

2 tablespoons dry sherry

2 to 3 tablespoons concentrated beef soup base or granulated bouillon

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1⁄2 teaspoon ground white pepper, plus more to taste

1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 teaspoon garlic salt

Eight 3⁄4-inch-thick slices French baguette or four 3⁄4-inch-thick slices bread (country white or Club Rye Onion Loaf on page 196)

Eight 1-ounce slices deli-style Swiss cheese (see The Junior’s Way)

4 scallions (green part only), cut 1⁄4 inch thick on the diagonal (optional)

1. Peel the onions and cut into thin slices, 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 inch thick, using the medium disk of a food processor or by hand. Separate the slices into rings.

2. Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and sugar and sauté slow and easy until the onions are soft, translucent, tender, a deep golden brown in color, and their edges have browned. This will take about 45 minutes. Do not rush this step by raising the level of heat.

3. Add the broth, increase the heat to high, and bring to a full boil. Add the sherry and 2 tablespoons of the beef soup base, the salt, and pepper. Reduce the heat to a slow simmer and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes, adding more broth if you like your soup extra-soupy. Taste the soup and add more beef base, salt, and/or pepper if you like.

4. Make the croutons while the soup simmers: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Melt the butter, stir in the garlic salt, and use this to butter both sides of the bread. Arrange the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until golden and crispy, about 15 minutes, turning once. Keep warm.

Ladle about 2 cups of soup into each of 4 individual-serving heatproof crocks that can go under the broiler, making sure each one has a generous serving of onions as well as broth. Top each crock with 2 small French bread croutons or 1 large one and cover with 2 slices of cheese. Set the crocks on a baking sheet and broil until the cheese melts, bubbles, and turns golden brown, about 5 minutes. Don’t worry if the cheese drips over the edges of the crocks, as that makes it even more like it’s served at Junior’s. Top each crock with a few sliced scallions if you like. Serve immediately. Do not refrigerate or freeze this soup.

The Junior’s Way

• Flavor your onion soup the way they do at Junior’s, with a concentrated beef soup base product like Better Than Bouillon®. Sold in jars, it’s made from roasted beef and beef broth, and adds a deep, rich flavor to any broth. It’s available in other flavors as well, including chicken, vegetable, mushroom, turkey, and ham. Look for it alongside the bouillon cubes in the supermarket. One teaspoon of soup base equals 1 teaspoon of granulated bouillon or one dehydrated bouillon cube. We recommend starting with 1 tablespoon of beef soup base per quart of soup, then taste it for flavor, particularly salt, before adding more. We have found you can add a little extra to the hot soup, if needed, during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

•  Junior’s tops each crock of their onion soup with two slices of deli-style Swiss cheese. Look for one that has been aged long enough to develop a slightly sweet, slightly nutty taste.

— Compiled by Meredith Goad, Staff Writer